Nigeria Moves on Refineries as Oil Giants Off Hook for Corruption

An Italian court has cleared energy giants Eni and Shell of U.S.$1.1 billion corruption charges related to an oil exploration deal in Nigeria. The long-running case revolved around the U.S.$1.3 billion purchase of the OPL 245 offshore oilfield in Nigeria in 2011 from Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete. The money was paid into a Nigerian government bank account in London, but Italian prosecutors believe that the money ended up lining the pockets of Nigerian politicians and middlemen, including Etete. Prosecutors argued that Eni and Shell knew that most of the money would have gone into bribes, but the two companies strongly denied the allegations. The Nigerian government said it was surprised and disappointed by the verdict and will consider whether to appeal.

Meanwhile, the country's economy has been battered by two recessions in the past five years and the oil price has taken a huge dip as Covid-19 pandemic tightens its grip worldwide. The government has however taken steps in developing the nation's refining capacity by approving a U.S.$1,5 billion loan for the restoration of Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State, a year after shutting down all of its dilapidated refining facilities to figure out how to fix them.

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