NNPC to Halt Suit Against ExxonMobil-Seplat $1.28bn Divestment Deal

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has filed a motion in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to discontinue its ongoing legal action against several subsidiaries of Mobil Nigeria and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) challenging ExxonMobil’s $1.28 billion asset divestment to Seplat.

The motion, filed on June 11, 2024, is part of a broader effort to finalize a settlement agreement involving the divestment of 100 per cent interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

NNPC’s application, presented by their legal counsel Afe Babalola & Co., requests the court to grant leave for discontinuance and to strike out the suit, with the provision to relist it should the settlement process fail.

The motion also requests the court to strike out the suit without costs, underscoring the parties’ commitment to an amicable settlement.

The court is now tasked with considering the motion, which, if granted, would mark a significant step towards resolving the longstanding dispute between NNPC, the Mobil subsidiaries, and NUPRC, enabling the parties to focus on finalizing the settlement and the divestment transaction.

Two weeks ago, NNPC announced the signing of a settlement agreement facilitating the divestment of ExxonMobil’s stake in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to Seplat Energy Plc after President Bola Tinubu gave his assent to the deal.

This could put a full stop to the deal after two years of tussle which began in February 2022 when Seplat announced an agreement to acquire ExxonMobil’s 40 per cent stake in MPNU, expecting the transaction to be completed in the second half of the year.

However, on May 19, 2022, the NUPRC declined to approve Seplat’s proposed acquisition, citing “overriding national interest.”

Two months later, Seplat reported that NNPC had secured a court injunction preventing ExxonMobil from selling its assets in Nigeria.

This opposition led former President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse his initial authorization for the acquisition on August 10, 2022, shortly after approval.

By Adedapo Adesanya 

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