The Federal High Court in Lagos has given an interim injunction directing Nigerian banks to block the accounts of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited over an alleged loss of 1.02 million barrels of oil suffered by Aiteo Eastern E&P Company Limited.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, according to court papers sighted by our correspondent, made the order following an ex parte application, suit no FHC/L/CS/52/202, by Aiteo Eastern E&P Company.
The SPDC, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited, Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd are the first, second, third, fourth and fifth defendants respectively.
In 2015, the SPDC sold its 30 per cent stake in Oil Mining Lease 29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line and related facilities to Aiteo.
The court ruled that the defendants, whether their agents or privies “are restrained in the interim from presenting to the named banks any mandate or instrument for the withdrawal of any money and/or funds standing to the credit of any of the accounts” of the defendants without first preserving or ring-fencing the sum of $81,251,305.5 or its equivalent in any other official currency.
According to the court, $81,251,305.5 is the value of the plaintiff’s 1,022,029 barrels of crude oil (at the rate of $79.50 per barrel) as stated in the Department of Petroleum Resources letter dated 8th day of July, 2020, and as claimed in this suit.
The court also restrained the defendants from presenting to the banks any mandate or instrument for the withdrawal or any money and/or funds standing to the credit of any of the accounts of the defendants without first preserving and or ring-fencing the total sum of $2,700,583,779.75 or its equivalent in any other official currency.
The court said Aiteo claimed in the suit that it paid $799m to Shell for the acquisition of the NCTL pipelines and the assets; that $389,631,877.76 had been lost by it (the plaintiff) arising from the leakages in the NCTL and the degraded conditions of the NCTL; and that $578,951,901.99 was lost arising from the crude theft/larceny in the NCTL.
Aiteo also claimed that $933m had been expended for the repairs of the pipelines and acquisition of the equipment including well-heads, generators and pumps as well as replacing the flow lines within the NCTL.
When contacted, Shell’s spokesman, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, said, “Allegations that SPDC would underreport its crude oil production are malicious and factually incorrect.
“Crude oil production metering and allocation are subject to specific guidelines issued by the industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources.
“SPDC strictly adheres to these guidelines and the application and implementation of these guidelines is regularly verified by the regulator. The DPR has also dismissed the allegation as untrue.”
He added that the SPDC and all Shell companies in Nigeria conducted their operations in accordance with applicable laws and industry best practices.