Italian oil giant Eni has informed that an investigation over its controversial acquisition of a Nigerian offshore license has been concluded.
The investigation was looking into the acquisition of the OPL 245 block which Eni and Shell bought in 2011 for over $1 billion.
To remind, Global Witness, an international NGO investigating corruption in the energy sector, earlier said its investigation exposed the OPL 245 offshore block in Nigeria was sold in 1998 for $20 million to Malabu Oil & Gas, a company secretly owned by the then oil minister, Dan Etete, who later passed the block on to Shell and Eni in 2011, for $1.1bn.
It was also unclear where the money from the block acquisition went, and whether Eni and Shell knew the final destination, which is allegedly Etete and not the state coffers.
Eni on Friday said the investigation had been closed, reaffirming the “propriety of the transaction related to the acquisition of the OPL 245 operating license.”
Eni and Shell concluded the transaction with the Nigerian Government, without the involvement of any intermediaries, the company said.
To remind, Eni had appointed an independent US law firm to conduct verification of the propriety and regularity of the transaction. That investigation demonstrated the regularity of the acquisition procedure of OPL 245, carried out in compliance with the applicable laws.
“In particular, there was no evidence of payments from Eni to officials of the Nigerian Government. The amount paid by Eni and Shell for the OPL 245 block was deposited directly into an account owned by the Nigerian Government,” Eni said.
Obviously, the Italian oil company said, as soon as Eni has access to the documents filed by the prosecutor, it will commission further in-depth analysis by independent lawyers to confirm the regularity of the transaction.
Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Shell seeking comment.
Shell said it was aware of the Italian public prosecutor’s notification and that any individuals or companies named now have a period of time to respond.
A Shell spokesperson said: “We are aware of the investigation and we hope to show the prosecutor that there is no basis to prosecute Shell.”
Regarding the current status of the block block in question, the spokesperson said Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Ltd still has an interest in the block.
Offshore Energy Today Staff