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OPL 245: Nigeria hires London-based firm to lead dispute with Eni

OPL 245: Nigeria hires London-based firm to lead dispute with Eni

Nigeria has hired the services of Franklin Wyatt, a London-based consultancy company, to provide legal advice in a dispute with Eni, an Italian oil and gas company.

Franklin Wyatt, according to information on its website, specialises in dispute consultancy by providing advise beyond legal perspectives.

There is an age-long dispute between Eni and Nigeria over oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245 deal.

The oil deal dates back to 2011, when Shell and Eni acquired the massively rich OPL 245 for over $1.3 billion — paying $1.1 billion to take over 100 percent of Malabu’s interest and $210 million to the federal government as signature bonus.

The oil deal has resulted in multiple court cases worldwide, one of the which include a criminal case in Milan in which the federal government asked the two oil companies to make an advance payment of $1.092 billion as damages for their involvement in the OPL 245 scandal.

The Italian oil company had also filed a request for arbitration against Nigeria at the World Bank’s international centre for settlement of investor disputes (ICSID).

Eni said it plans to argue that Nigeria’s failure to allow it to exploit an oilfield it acquired with Royal Dutch Shell nearly a decade ago breaches their investment agreement.

But the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Re:Common, Global Witness, and Corner House, have called on the Nigerian government to stand against Eni’s legal move.

According to Bloomberg, Nigeria’s ministry of petroleum resources hired Franklin Wyatt to  represent and advise the government in “outstanding commercial and legal issues” with Eni.

The agency quoted a letter dated June 29 which “serves as confirmation” that the recruitment was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, who heads the country’s ministry of petroleum resources.

It adds that the letter “may be produced as evidence” of the firm’s “authority to represent the ministry in discussions with relevant counterparties”.

Garba Deen Muhammad, spokesman for Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum, confirmed development saying the ministry of petroleum resources hired Franklin Wyatt to “represent Nigeria on the Eni issue”.


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