There are indications that Nigeria might be getting ready for a legal battle with Chevron and Total, two of Nigeria’s oil giants over allegations of illegal oil exports.
This is a follow up to a court judgement delivered in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Earlier today, Justice Cecilia Olatoregun dismissed arguments of Chevron and Total that allegations of illegal exports was baseless.
According Bloomberg reports, Justice Cecilia said “The government is seeking revenues that it lost due to under-declarations” of exports, Fabian Ajogwu, a lawyer for the government, said to reporters after the hearing. “Essentially, we will go into trial.”
Miannaya Essien, representing Chevron, and Babatunde Fagbohun, a lawyer for Total, refused to make any press statement to journalists after the ruling.
The root cause of the trial is a lawsuit initiated by the federal government against major international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA and Petroleo Brasileiro SA for allegedly “failing to declare more than 57 million barrels of crude exports between 2011 and 2014. The government says the oil was worth about $13 billion, according to the Associated Press. Nigeria’s lower house of parliament said last week it ordered a separate investigation into whether as much as $17 billion of fuel exports were stolen during the period”.
According to the schedule for the main trial, Petrobras will attend to its hearing on the 10th of October, 2016, while Shell will be tried on the 20th of October, 2016. Agip Oil, a division of Eni will face its trial on the 31st of October 2016.
Nigeria might be making major financial claims as lost revenues gained by the oil companies on the illegal oil exports. Nigeria had imposed heavy fine of NGN330 billion on MTN Nigeria over the company’s refusal to deactivate over 5 million lines in late 2015.