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Federal High Court restrains FG from auctioning eight marginal oil fields

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday restrained the Federal Government from selling or accepting bids for eight Marginal Oil Fields (Oil Mining Licences) pending determination of a suit challenging their status.

Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke granted the order of interim injunction against the Ministry of State for Petroleum, his ministry and Auwalu Sarki, an engineer, following a May 20 ex-parte application filed by 10 oil firms.

The firms and ‘their’ Marginal Oil Fields include: Independent Energy Ltd – Ofa OML 30; Associated Oil and Gas Ltd/ Dansaki Petroleum Unlimited – Tom Shot Bank OML 14; Bayelsa Oil Company Ltd – Atala MFOG-2C and Bicta Energy and Management System Ltd – Ogedeh OML 90 MFOG-2D.

Others are: Del Sigma Petroleum Ltd – Ke OML 90 MFOG-2E; Goland Petroleum Ltd -Oriri OML 88 MFOG-2F; Sahara Energy Ltd/African Oil and Gas Ltd – Tsekelewu OML 40 MFOG-2G and Sogenal Ltd Akepo – OML 90 MFOG-2H.

The judge restrained the respondents from advertising a bidding for the Marginal Field(s), which were awarded to the Applicants, or selling them.

The judge further granted an interim injunction authorising the Applicants “to continue to manage, operate, control, explore … the Marginal Fields pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.” He adjourned till June 29 for mention.

The Federal Government in April 2020 purportedly revoked 11 firms’ oil licences to operate marginal fields.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on June 1 announced the commencement of the 2020 marginal field bid round, involving 57 marginal fields, including 11 fields revoked by the DPR.

But the oil firms filed a motion on notice challenging the revocation and applied for an interim injunction restraining the minister and the ministry from organising a bidding process for the Marginal Field(s).

Their counsel, Tayo Oyetibo SAN, George Ikoli SAN and Uche Nwokedi SAN backed the motion ex parte with an affidavit in support of the motion on notice deposed to by a Director of Del-Sigma Petroleum Abiodun Babajide.

Babajide told the Judge that before the revocation, the firms spent “tens of millions of US Dollars, in the full expectation that they would continue conducting their operational activities on their respective Fields for the remaining life span of each of the fields.”

He added: “The Plaintiffs have made huge investments in their respective Fields with a cumulative value of more than $290,000,000 from the year 2004 to April 2020 towards the development of their respective fields.

The Federal High Court in Lagos had also on May 17 and 29 restrained the government from auctioning Ororo and Dawes Island Marginal Oil Fields.

Source: The Nation