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Tinubu directs Lokpobiri, NNPC to resolve issues delaying Seplat, ExxonMobil deal

Tinubu directs Lokpobiri, NNPC to resolve issues delaying Seplat, ExxonMobil deal Tinubu directs Lokpobiri, NNPC to resolve issues delaying Seplat, ExxonMobil deal

President Bola Tinubu has directed the ministry of state for petroleum resources (Oil) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited to resolve the divestment issue delaying the Seplat and ExxonMobil deal.

Tinubu spoke on Tuesday during a meeting with a delegation from ExxonMobil Upstream Company, led by Liam Mallon, its president, in Abuja.

In February 2022, Seplat announced an agreement to acquire ExxonMobil’s 40 percent stake in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) — with the expectation that the transaction will be closed in the second half of the year.

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Company (NUPRC), on May 19, 2022, declined to approve Seplat’s proposed acquisition due to “overriding national interest”.

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Two months later, Seplat said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) had won a court injunction restraining ExxonMobil from selling its assets in Nigeria.

Following the push against the deal, former President Muhammadu Buhari reversed his authorisation for the acquisition on August 10, 2022 — a few days after his initial approval.

Amid the delay in obtaining approval, Seplat extended the SSPA for the acquisition of MPNU in May 2023 and May 2024.

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At the meeting, Tinubu assured the delegation that the federal government is committed to resolving the divestment issues between the company and Seplat Energy, which are currently in litigation.

“We have been pushing for closure on divestment issues, and I believe the other party, Seplat, is open to this,” Tinubu said.

“We are close enough to be fair and blunt with you, and we are not afraid to hear from you on better options and recommendations for the growth of the industry in Nigeria.”

The president commended the company for its commitment to environmental protection in Nigeria, stating its efforts to reduce gas flaring.

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He described ExxonMobil as a valuable partner in Nigeria’s development over the decades and urged the company to continue supporting the success of his administration.

Also, Heineken Lokpobiri, minister of state for petroleum resources (oil), said Tinubu has issued a clear directive to him and Mele Kyari, NNPC group chief executive officer (GCEO), to resolve the divestment issue.

Lokpobiri said all necessary actions are being taken to achieve this.

“Mr. President has given a clear directive to the NNPC GCEO and I to resolve the issue of divestment, and we are doing whatever we can to achieve that,” the minister said.

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Regarding decommissioning and abandonment in the oil industry, he said the ministry is addressing the issue in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and global best practices.

‘OIL, GAS REFORMS TO MAKE NIGERIA GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE’

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Tinubu said his oil and gas reforms will make Nigeria’s petroleum sector globally competitive.

On February 28, Tinubu signed three executive orders as part of the federal government’s plans to improve the investment climate in the sector.

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The three executive orders, which became effective on February 28 are tax incentives, exemption, remission for oil and gas companies, local content compliance requirements and reduction of contracting costs and timelines.

The president said these reforms will ensure no oil company encounters unnecessary challenges in the country.

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“Nigeria is going through a lot of reforms, and we have been navigating the leadership quarters carefully to ensure that we achieve a win-win situation for all parties and attract more investments,” Tinubu said.

Also, Lokpobiri said the reforms driven by the three executive orders will ensure companies operating in Nigeria have the best environment to continue making their investments and that no company will seek to leave Nigeria.

ExxonMobil’s president expressed gratitude for the support and assurances from the government and affirmed the company’s enduring dedication to the country’s energy sector.

Mallon also praised the president for the reforms initiated within the first year of his tenure.

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