By Temitope Adedeji, Akure
Stakeholders in the Oil and Gas industry in Nigeria have thrown their weight behind the suspension of transfer of Eland’s interest in OML 40 to Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SEPLAT) with the approach to a UK court to halt what was described as an unholy alliance.
Eland in October this year announced the proposed acquisition of its Nigeria Oil and Gas assets to SEPLAT, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) respectively.
The group of stakeholders under the aegis of a Non- Governmental Organisation, Nigeria Oil Reformers claimed that Goerge Maxwell attempted to transfer the country’s oil and gas assets to the high street of LSE without proper pre-approval of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Ltd (NPDC), Starcrest (its senior local partner in the JV) and London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) , describing it as lack of the desperation to transfer the company’s underlying problems to SEPLAT.
The Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Fredrick Phillips stressed that it was allegedly gathered that the George Maxwell-led company demonstrated what could be termed lack of understanding regarding Nigeria’s regulations concerning the transfer of interest in oil and gas assets and change of company’s controls.
He argued that the move is considered as a disregard for the country’s right to her crude reserves as enshrined in the principles of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources (PSNR) aimed at shielding developing countries from external economic and political interference.
The group commended the move by a representative of the country in the block, the NPDC which is the original operator of the field to also indicate its capability at matching SEPLAT’s valuation of the asset.
They stressing that although Eland could boast of some verifiable technical expertise, Goerge Maxwell’s suspected ineptitude in managing partner’s relationship in Nigeria could be said to be the bane of the company.
The NGO claimed that Maxwell had allegedly threatened to influence through the political class despite not honouring certain part of the JV agreements, citing the scenario created with non-payment of remunerations to Starcrest and therefore condemned the assault on the DPR for insisting on due process.
Phillips, however, noted that the group would continue to play its part in ensuring that the efforts of President, Muhammadu Buhari at sanitizing economic activities, especially in the oil and gas sector is not only sustained but improved upon in the interest of the investors and the generality of the citizens.
Efforts to get Maxwell to react proved abortive as calls and text messages put across to him could not yield any positive result.