By Udeme Akpan, Energy Editor Obas Esiedesa & Lawani Mikairu
THE Federal Government has presented a letter of consent to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited, a subsidiary of Seplat Energy, for the cash acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, MPNU, from its shareholders, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, MDNI, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc, MENI, entities of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Seplat Energy had earlier agreed to acquire the entire share capital of MPNU at the cost of $1.283 billion plus up to $300 million contingent consideration.
But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, had disagreed, arguing that as a partner, it should have been granted the right of first refusal in purchasing the assets.
However, confirming the government consent in a statement obtained by Vanguard, Seplat Energy, stated: “The transformational transaction will create one of the largest independent energy companies on both the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges, and bolster Seplat Energy’s ability to drive increased growth, profitability and overall stakeholder prosperity.
“The approval is given by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources (HMPR), with the granting of Ministerial Consent pursuant to the powers of the Minister under Paragraphs 14-16 of the First Schedule of the Petroleum Act, 1969. A separate announcement from the State House was released earlier.
“In the letter, the President as HMPR directed that the HMSPR shall convey Ministerial Consent to all relevant parties, including but not limited to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), the ExxonMobil companies, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and Seplat Energy/Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.
Reacting, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, Engr Gbenga Komolafe has insisted that the decision to decline assent to the transfer of ExxonMobil shares to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited remains.
Engr. Komolafe in an exclusive telephone interview with Vanguard said: “the Commission as the Upstream Regulator under the Petroleum Industry Act is fully vested with the powers to deal with such issues and the Commission has communicated its position to ExxonMobil months ago”.