By Lateef Adegbite and Elizabeth Chukwuma
Fear appears to have gipped contractors, Indigenes of the oil producing Communities in the Niger Delta states of Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Imo and Abia and the staff of ENI, an Italian Multi-national wholly owned subsidiary, Nigerian Oil company, NAOC.
This is because Oando Oil plc, a Nigerian integrated oil company that has Wale Tinubu, a relation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the Managing Director, moves to take over the Italian oil giant 100% participatory interest in NAOC.
The Contractors and indigenes of the hist Communities, particular, have feared that the new management of the whole owned subsidiary Company, will block all the areas used in making money by them at the community level like bidding for contracts and making claims from oil locations.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, an affiliate of Trade Union Congress, TUC, NAOC, Chapter, on its’ part fears that 3,000 workers may be thrown to the job market from NAOC by the new Oando Oil plc, Management.
ENI had announced that it has entered into a Sales Agreement with Ondo Oil plc, a Nigerian oil firm listed in the Nigerian Stock Exchange Market and the Johannesburg Stock , to takeover control of its 100% participating interest in NAOC , in order ‘‘to focus more on the offshore oil and gas exploration and production as well as power generation’’
The Italian oil giant was emphatic that though it has agreed to hands off completely from NAOC OMLs operated 60 – 63 for the Nigeria integrated oil company to run, and which is expected to increase its participating interest in ENI’ OPL 282 and 135, but it was said to have made it clear to Nigerians and its’ competitors in the nation’s oil industry that it will continue to operate in the West African country .
While ENI officials are happy leaving out its NAOC OMLs 60-63 operations to a Nigerian oil Company operating in the country’s upstream, midstream and downstream, they have assured the staff that the Nigerian oil firm will not withdraw any of their privileges, let alone sack any staff.
Aware of the fears of the contractors and indigenes the oil producing Communities, including the NAOC staff , Tinubu, the Oando boss had said that there was no cause for them to worry, as closing the transaction will further help’’ in harnessing the potentials of the enhanced platform to the accrue vale for the oil bearing Communities , stakeholders and other shareholders’’.
Although the ENI Management had repeatedly said that the NAOC workers’ jobs are safe and secure but that has failed to calm them. The anger of the PENGASSAN, NAOC Chapter leadership became pronounced as they mobilised members to protest against Oando Oil plc acquisition of 100% shares in NAOC may have cleared the way for the Nigerian oil company to take over the participating interest of NAOC in Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, , JV, ( Shell Production Development Company Joint Venture operator’s 30%, Total Energies 10% , NAOC 5% but Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC , now baptised Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, with the signing into Law of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed by the National Assembly in August 2021, by former president Muhammadu Buhari’s 55% not included in perimeter of the transaction would still be retained in ENI’s portfolio, the online Magazine learnt.
An aggrieved Ifeanyi, a top official of PENGASSAN, NAOC Chapter, had said that when information filtered out to the public domain about the planned sales of the company to Oando plc, the union had had met with the Roberto Daniele’s led management on July 12, 2023, to trash out the matter but who were said to have allegedly denied that ‘’no such plan existed’’. On Thursday, September 7, 2023, the Leadership of PENGASSAN, NAOC Chapter, had mobilised the workers to protest against the sales of the oil company to Oando plc.
Despite the protest that was said to have been embarked upon by the PENGASSAN, NAOC Chapter members, to express home their grievances over the sale of the company to Oando Oil plc, the Association was said to have also has threatened ‘’to withdraw its members from all offices and oil field stations ifthe sale is implemented.
Eze Ifeanyi, Industrial Relations officer of the NAOC PENGASSAN Chapter, who was said to have spoken the mind of Festus Osifo, President, TUC, when he declared that ‘’ the union would not allow ‘’the transfer of any worker to Oando plc without due process being followed’’.
In spite of the fact that the sales deal between ENI and Oando plc gave not not bee fully implemented , the union , withdrawal of its members from all NAOC offices, field and gas stations in Rivers, Balyelsa, Delta, Abia and Imo states was said to have caused the company to lose 30,0000 b/d of crude oil , about 10msf of LNG gas supply to the Bonny based Nigerian Liquefied Natural company , NLNG, and about 350 MW of Okpai IPP power to the national grid. The situation is so worrisomee as power supply to most of the oil producing communities particular,,in Ogba/egbema/ Ndoni Local government Area of Rivers state were said to have been thrown darkness since the crisis broke out and with the pople of Egbema community, blocking the Ebocha gas plant in anger.
Note, Officials of ENI, may have bowed to pressure to allow Oando plc, an integrated local energy company to take over its 100% of its share – holding in NAOC, because of its believe that the company will continue with its Net Zero carbon emissions policy which is expected to be completed by 2050, as well as promoting efficient and sustainable access to energy for all.
Going by the transaction highlights, the deal is going to increase the Nigerian bound oil Company current participating shares in Oil Mining Lease, OML, 60, 61, 62 and 63 from the present 20% to 40% .Insiders further disclosed that the deal will increase the company’s stake in all NAOC/OOL , Joint Venture assets and infrastructure which according to informed sources include 40 new discovered oil and gas fields . At present twenty four of the new oil and gas fields are said to be producing, approximately forty identified prospect and leads, twelve production stations, approximately 1,190 km of pipelines, three gas processing plants, the Brass oil terminal, the Kwale- Okpai phases I&II power plants , with a total nameplate capacity of 960 MW and associate infrastructure.
A source old The Value News that until Oando and ENI, entered into the sales deal, the former’s total reserves as at 2021, was only 503.3 Nboe but the new deal is expected to increase the Oando plc’s total oil reserves to over 98%. There are indications that it would also increase the integrated energy firm exploration asset portfolio through the acquisition of a 90% interest in OPL 282, and 48% interest in OPL 135.
An elated Tinubu, the Oando plc, Chief Executive Office, CEO, who is very happy that the sales deal with ENI to take over its 100% participating shareholdings in NAOC, has been achieved after several years of behind the manoeuvring n and who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the synergies created by the acquisition of ENI shares in NAOC will unlock the unparalleled opportunities for the company to re-align expectation and significantly increase production level in the tears ahead’’.
He had said that ‘’the realignment with the company’s strategy of acquiring other assets’’ , will go a long way’’ in enhancing, appraising and efficiently developing its reserves’’. Indeed, with the great milestone that had been achieved by the two companies may have informed why the Oando officials had said that they look forward ‘’ toward completing the transaction which is still subject to the ministerial approval and other required regulatory agencies consent’’.
Notwithstanding, the Management of Oando Oil plc, have concluded arrangement to fully takeover of the ENI’s 100% participating interest in NAOC’S OMLs 60 – 63 , Ali Zarah, the Managing Director of NNPCL Exploration and production Limited, a subsidiary of NNPCL, under the close watch of Mele Kolo Kyari, in a letter dated September 4, 2023, addressed to Daniele, the Managing Director, of NAOC, had queried the purported divestment of ENI’s shares to Oando Oil plc.
The NNPCL subsidiary had said that if the purported divestment news making the rounds was true ‘’it would have the following ‘’far reaching contractual and legal implications in relation to the Joint Operating Agreement dated July 1991, governing the operations of the NAOC/NEPL/OOL Joint Venture.
Recall that Clause 19, sub-session 1.1 of the JOA was had stated that ‘’no party may divest or transfer its interest or any part thereof without prior written consent of the other parties, which consent must not be unreasonably withheld’’.
The message was clear that ENI in seeking to transfer the whole of its 100% participating shares in NAOC , ought to have sought the prior written consent of the other parties involved in JVA, but failed to do so. The NNPCL Management may have shocked Nigerians when it disclosed that ENI, the Italian oil giant never informed them of any proposed divestment of its participating interest in NAOC to Oando Oil plc or the NAOC Management making effort to obtain the mandatory pre-divestment written consent and approval from NEPCL, in accordance with clause 19 , subsession 1.1 of the JVA.
The NEPL Management may have made it clear to those that cares to listen that‘ ’the ENI’s divestment from NAOC was illegal when it stated that ‘’it constitutes a grave breach of the terms of the JOA’’ , It stated that it is its entitlement ‘’to invalidate the purported divestment of ENI’s 100% participatory interest in NAOC to Oando Oil plc. Nigerians are watching to see the end result of the ENI’s Sale of its100% shares in NAOC to Oando Oil plc.