BY Innocent Anaba
A Nigerian oil company, Seplat Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Limited, yesterday, accused another indigenous oil exploration and production company, Brittania-U Limited, of employing delay tactics to frustrate the suit against Chevron Group before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Brittania-U had sued Chevron Group over its planned sale of Oil Mining Leases, OMLs, 52, 53 and 54.
Other defendants in the suit are Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, Chevron USA Incorporated, BNP Paribas Securities Corporation, Mr. Hermant Patel and Seplat.
Brittania-U is alleging in the suit that CNL and Chevron USA Incorporated were making secret moves to ignore the result of the competitive bid conducted for the sale of Chevron’s 40 per cent interest in the three oil blocs.
It is arguing that it emerged as the highest bidder, offering $1.015 billion, while Seplat and its partners came second with about $900 million offer.
Trial judge in the matter is Justice Mohammed Yunusa.
At the resumed hearing in the case, yesterday, Brittania-U’s counsel told the court that at the last adjourned date, the matter was fixed for hearing of the preliminary objections filed by the respondents, and also to enable parties file their processes in respect of the objections.
Counsel informed the court that Seplat had already served him with an appeal filed at the Appeal Court against the interim order of the court, noting that in view of same, it might not be expedient to proceed with the hearing of the objections as scheduled.
But Seplat’s counsel said that Brittania-U’s counsel was not interested in going on with the case simply because he already had an interim order in his favour.
Seplat insisted that the appeal referred to had nothing to do with the issue of objection which the court originally adjourned for hearing.
In a short ruling, the court adjourned till March 20 for hearing of pending applications challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
It will be recalled that the judge had earlier extended the interim junction he made restraining Chevron Corporation of the United States and its Nigerian subsidiary, Chevron Nigeria Limited and their agents from negotiating the sale of the said Oil Mining Leases with Seplat or any other bidder, apart from Brittania-U Limited.