Shell Plc says it has paused the divestment of its onshore oil assets in Nigeria pending the outcome of a case at the supreme court.
In a statement seen by TheCable on Thursday, Osagie Okunbor, managing director of SPDC, noted that the “recent media reporting regarding the 16 June Supreme Court proceedings does not accurately reflect SPDC’s response to the order”.
Clarifying the company’s decision, Okunbor said: “The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. (SPDC) complies with the law, including any court orders, and respects the judiciary and its role in upholding the rule of law.
“SPDC will continue to comply with the Supreme Court’s order to maintain the status quo. We have a strong belief in the merits of our case, which we are vigorously defending.”
Consequently, the company said it would not progress the divestment of its interest in SPDC until the outcome of its appeal.
According to Bloomberg, the company had received final offers for its onshore oil and gas fields from Tony Elumelu’s Heirs Oil and Gas Limited and ND Western Limited.
Shell had appealed a lower court decision on N800 billion ($2 billion) penalties to 88 communities in Egbalor Ebubu, Rivers state, over allegations of oil spill that damaged farms and waterways.
In March 2022, a court of appeal in Owerri stopped Shell from selling any assets in Nigeria until a decision is reached on the company’s appeal suit. It also ordered Shell to deposit the money in an account controlled by the court.
Two weeks after the supreme court ordered all parties to maintain status quo in a contempt proceeding filed against Osagie Okunbor, managing director, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), and three management staff of the company over the penalty fees.
The court adjourned the case till November 3, 2022.