Activists ask FG to cancel controversial oil deal with Shell and Eni over corruption

INTERNATIONAL and local activists are asking the Federal Government to cancel the 2011 resolution agreement that yielded ownership of the controversial oil block OPL 245 to Shell and Eni after evidence emerged that the oil giants undercut Nigeria to a record of $6 billion in projected revenue over the lucrative oil block.

Earlier report by The ICIR detailed how Shell and Eni cut out a deal that removed terms requiring them to pay royalty and profit oil on OPL 245.

Shell and Eni paid $1.1 billion in 2011 to secure ownership of the oil block after a protracted dispute over the rightful ownership among the Federal Government, Shell and Malabu Oil and Gas limited.

Activists say that the international oil companies made the payment not just to secure rights to the oil block but also to cut an unfair deal that will result in Nigeria losing $5.86 billion in revenue projected on an oil price of $70 per barrel.

A new report on the analysis of OPL 245 presented in Lagos on Monday indicates that Shell and Eni connived with government officials to alter terms of the agreement which drastically reduce the potential government revenue from the oil block.

“Some people actually signed off on the deal knowing full well that Nigeria was being scammed,” said Olarewaju Suraj, chair of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).

Suraj said the officials of the oil companies knew that the payment of $1.1 billion for the oil block would be misappropriated but they did so with the aim of securing favourable terms that would rake in billions in profits for the oil companies.

“We can’t allow Nigeria to be treated like a banana republic where multinationals will conspire with locals to deprive the country of its entitlements,” Suraj said.

Barnaby Pace from the Global Witness said “Shell and Eni executives set the deal up so that Nigeria would earn an estimated $6 billion less than it could have. This scandalous deal must be cancelled.”

Antonio Tricarico of Re: Common also called for the cancellation of the oil deal. He said, “The Italian government is discouraging migrants trying to reach Italy by claiming that it will help them at home, but Italy’s biggest multinational, partly owned by the state, is accused of depriving the Nigerian people of billions. The OPL 245 scandal appears to show that Italian officials are not helping the poorest, but profiting from them.”

    Nick Hildyard of The Corner House added that “Shell and Eni represented their OPL 245 contract as a production sharing agreement yet it includes no sharing of production for Nigeria. This shocking poor deal must be cancelled.

    The new analysis of the controversial oil block was carried out by Resources for Development Consulting for Global Witness and NGOs HEDA, RE: Common and The Corner House.

    While the campaigners are calling for the outright cancellation of the OPL 245 deal with Shell and Eni, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had advised President Muhammadu Buhari to accept the terms of the agreement which have been established to be disadvantageous to Nigeria.

    Shell and Eni are currently facing bribery charges over the OPL 245 in a landmark trial that began in September in Italy.

    Chikezie can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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