UK – A UK court has been asked to halt the illegal transfer of Eland’s interest in OML 40 to SEPLAT.
This is in what is shaping to be an intense and protracted legal and political battle between Emeka Offor’s Company, Starcrest, Eland, SEPLAT and the Nigerian Government.
The Nigerian government is represented by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC.
It is recalled that Eland recently rushed to announce the proposed acquisition of its Nigeria Oil and Gas assets to SEPLAT, another UK stock exchange-listed Company on October 15th 2019.
Insiders familiar with the transfer confirmed that, by this development, the George Maxwell-led Company had ”demonstrated a total lack of understanding regarding Nigeria’s regulations concerning the transfer of interests in Oil and Gas assets and change of Company’s controls.”
“George Maxwell attempted to transfer the Country’s oil and Gas assets in the high streets of London stock exchange without proper pre-approval of NPDC (the Operator of the field), Starcrest (its senior local partner in the JV), and DPR, the regulator completely showcases either Eland’s board lack of sophistication or desperation to transfer the company’s underlying problems to SEPLAT.” Daily Post quote him saying.
He said the ”move has also been considered a blatant disregard to the country’s right to her crude reserves as enshrined in the principles of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources (PSNR) that aimed at shielding developing countries from external economic and political interference.
He said that the development reminds observers of the 1885 Berlin Conference where the European colonial powers scrambled to gain control over the interior of the continent.
”The representative of the country in the block, the NPDC, who is the real and actual operator of the field (not Eland as claimed in the UK stock exchange), has also indicated its capability at matching SEPLAT’s valuation of the asset.
”It will go-ahead to exercise its pre-emption rights per the definitive agreements guiding relationship between the parties.
”The Company is not interested in being forced into unholy alliances fabricated in the UK with SEPLAT,” he said.
According to him, ” the situation also confirms the industry knowledge that although Eland could boast of some verifiable technical expertise, George Maxwell’s ineptitude in managing partner’s relationship in Nigeria was the real bane of the company.
”It could be the main reason why the Board of Directors exercised a vote of no confidence in him which ultimately led to the approval of SEPLAT’s hostile takeover.
Another insider recalled a recent ”assault on the DPR, almost dragging the regulators to the court over some disagreements concerning due-process.
He alleged that the company management had demonstrated a kamikaze tendency that worries the employees, Eland’s Management and the investors.
He said, ” There is no respect the country, its businessmen and the regulators which is why the only deals the company has been able to consummate in Nigeria were the ones that Les Blair brokered.
”This saga could well lead to another epic protracted legal battle involving an unwholesome transfer of the country’s asset. Eland’s investors are indeed in for a very long legal and political quagmire, especially in a country with no clear separation between the executive and the judiciary,” he said.