Nigeria: Court Restrains Govt From Auctioning 7 Marginal Fields

4 June 2020

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, restrained the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, from selling, auctioning or accepting bids for some marginal fields belonging to some oil and gas operators.

Trial judge in the matter, Justce Chukwujekwu Aneke said the order would subsist pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The marginal field operators include Associated Oil & Gas Ltd/Dansaki Petroleum Ltd operator of Tom Shot Bank Marginal Field, Bayelsa Oil Ltd operator of Atala Marginal Field, Independent Energy Ltd operator of Ofa Marginal Field, Del-Sigma Petroleum Nigeria Ltd operator of Ke Marginal Field, Sogenal Energy Ltd operator of Akepo Marginal Field, Sahara Energy Ltd/African Oil & Gas Ltd operator of Tsekelewu Marginal Field, Bicta Energy and Management Systems Ltd operator of Ogedeh Marginal Field, Goland Petroleum Ltd operator of Oriri Marginal Field.

The marginal field operators, through their lawyers, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, Anthony George-Okolie, SAN, Uche Nwokedi, SAN, Pascal Ememonu and Joshua Ayanda, in the suit against the defendants, are challenging the purported revocation of the awards of marginal fields by the Federal Government sequel to a letter of revocation dated April 6, 2020.

They alleged that they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the production and development of the affected marginal fields.

The companies added that the purported revocation of their awards of marginal fields by the government violated their constitutional rights to fair hearing, their rights under the Petroleum Act and under the guidelines governing marginal fields in Nigeria.

They urged the court to halt the attempt by the Federal Government to include the affected marginal fields in the next bidding rounds for award of marginal fields as it recently announced pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Among the orders sought by the companies include, "An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondents, jointly or severally, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, staff, agents, assigns, privies, associates, allies, representatives, successors-in-title or any person whomsoever from taking any further step or action pursuant to the respondents' letter dated April 6, 2020 to award, transfer, alienate, assign, sell or howsoever called, to any other person the marginal field(s) which were awarded to the applicants, in whole or any part thereof, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

"An order of interlocutory injunction mandating the respondents, jointly or severally, whether by themselves, their officers, servants, staff, agents, assigns, privies, associates, allies, representatives, successors-in-title or any person whomsoever to allow the applicants to continue to manage, operate, control, explore, work, produce, win or howsoever called, the marginal fields which were awarded to the applicants respectively, in whole or any part thereof, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit."

After listening the companies through their lawyers, Justice Aneke in granting the application, noted that the respondents did not file any process in opposition and were also not represented by counsel in court though they were served with hearing notices that the matter was adjourned for hearing on June 3, 2020.

The court then adjourned the matter to June 29, 2020 for hearing of the substantive suit.

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