By Chioma Iruke
An Appeal Court sitting in Abuja has upturned the August 23, 2019 ruling of the Federal High Court which held that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was entitled to the renewal of the Lease on OML 11.
In the ruling, the appellate court held that the Minister of Petroleum Resources has the discretion whether or not to renew the OML 11 Lease in favour of SPDC. The Court further held that the Minister rightly exercised his discretion in awarding the OML 11 Lease to NPDC, a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Garba Deen Muhammad, quoted the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, as saying that the ruling has paved the way for the NPDC to lead a formidable OML 11 team towards bolstering productivity in a responsible, efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable manner.
Accordingly, resumption of operations on OML 11 will demonstrate the NPDC’s full commitment to develop and add value to its communities and the nation as a whole.
“We now have an opportunity to reconstruct a new beginning on OML 11, driven by global best practices and a social contract that would put the people and environment of the Niger Delta above pecuniary considerations.
“This is a huge victory for the government and people of Nigeria as we now have the impetus to responsibly unlock the oil and gas reserves the block offers for the benefit of all Nigerians,” Mallam Kyari stated.
The statement further stated that the NPDC has taken over the assets and operations are in full gear, adding that the company is working closely with all stakeholders and partners to achieve the new vision of “responsible, smart engineering and environmental sustainability,” that the Federal Government has endorsed for OML 11.
The NNPC GMD stated that the NPDC will pursue promotion of clean energy via its gas production with prospects of gas-to-power initiatives to “light up opportunities in the region,” and provide the much deserved industrialization.
The statement noted that the environment will be a top priority for NPDC’s operations, as well as implementation of a robust host community engagement strategy to address subsisting issues, while agreeing to a transparent engagement model going forward.
The NNPC cautioned against any further legal challenge by the SPDC, stressing that it was about time Nigeria derived the benefit of the OML11 after over three decades.