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‘Status quo remains’ — NUPRC rejects Buhari’s approval of Seplat, Mobil Producing Oil assets deal

‘Status quo remains’ — NUPRC rejects Buhari’s approval of Seplat, Mobil Producing Oil assets deal
August 09
00:07 2022

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) says status quo will remain in respect to the acquisition of ExxonMobil Corporation assets by Seplat Energy Plc.

In May, NUPRC had declined to approve the proposed acquisition due to “overriding national interest”.

However, exercising his capacity as minister of petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, approved the acquisition deal.

But in a turn of events, Gbenga Komolafe, chief executive, NUPRC, in a statement on Monday, said the commission was still dealing with regulatory issues in the upstream sector.

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As such, it said its decline to consent to the proposed acquisition deal was still standing.

“The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) affirms that status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition,” the statement reads.

Responding to media enquiries on latest developments about the transaction, Komolafe clarified that the “commission in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 is the sole regulator in dealing with such matters in the Nigerian upstream sector”.

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“As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the commission had earlier communicated the decline of ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such the commission further affirms that the status quo remains,” it added.

“The commission is committed to ensuring predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector.”

Described as the first post-PIA acquisition deal, Seplat Energy had said it would acquire Mobil Producing Oil assets from ExxonMobil for $1.3 billion.

In July, Seplat Energy informed investors that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) blocked the deal through a court injunction restraining Exxon Mobil from selling its assets in the country.

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For more than a decade, International oil companies (IOCs) have divested their assets to local oil companies due to operational difficulties, crude oil theft, climate targets, among others.

In March 2022, a court of appeal in Owerri stopped Shell from selling any assets in Nigeria until a decision is reached in an oil spill penalty suit.

Shell Plc had since suspended its divestment plan pending the outcome of the case at the supreme court.

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