By Abiola Olawale
The Federal High Court in Lagos has granted an interim Mareva injunction directing 20 commercial banks to block accounts of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its affiliate companies, in a bid to recover the cash equivalent to the alleged loss of 1.02 million barrels of crude oil suffered by Aiteo Eastern E&P company.
Aiteo, in 2015, had filed an application at the Federal High Court, Lagos, which named SPDC, Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDS), Shell Western Supply (SWS), Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd (SITSC), Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd (SNEPC), as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth defendants respectively. The application was filed by Kemi Pinheiro, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Dapo Olanipekun, SAN, among others.
Delivering the judgement, Wednesday, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the presiding judge, on the suit no FHC/L/CS/52/2021, granted an interim mareva injunction directing the 20 commercial banks where the Shell Companies operate accounts in Nigeria, to ring-fence a total sum of $ 2.7 billion.
The New Diplomat understands that the mareva injunction ordered by the court is to restrain the defendants in the suit, from making any withdrawal from the 20 listed banks without preserving a total sum of $2, 700,583,779.75 or its equivalent in any other official currency.
According to the order, the Court also directed the 20 banks to pay a total sum of $2.7 billion into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court.
The court order reads, “Pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction, the respondent banks are directed to sequestrate and/or ring-fence any cash, bonds, deposits, all forms of negotiable instruments to the value of $2.7 billion and pay all standing credits to the shell companies up to the value into an interest yielding account in the name of the Chief Registrar of the court.”
According to the court, the valued of the 1,022,029 barrels of crude oil is placed at $81,251,305.5 which was derived from the rate of $79.50 per barrel stated in the Department of Petroleum Resources letter dated 8th day of July, 2020.
Additionally, Aiteo in the suit, claimed that a total sum of $799m was paid to the five defendants in the suit, for the acquisition of the NCTL pipelines and the assets. Aiteo also stated that the total sum of $389,631,877.76 had been lost due to the leakages and degraded conditions of the NCTL. The application also added that $578,951,901.99 was lost as a result of the crude theft/larceny in the NCTL.
Aiteo also claimed to have spent $933m on the repairs of the pipelines and acquisition of the equipment which included, well-heads, generators and pumps as well as replacing the flow lines within the NCTL.
Reacting to the court’s order, Shell’s spokesman, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, said, the oil company operates in line with the guidelines laid by the DPR. Odugbesan further stated that the allegations laid against Shell is ‘malicious and factually incorrect’
In his words, “Allegations that SPDC would underreport its crude oil production are malicious and factually incorrect. Crude oil production metering and allocation are subject to specific guidelines issued by the industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources. SPDC strictly adheres to these guidelines and the application and implementation of these guidelines is regularly verified by the regulator. The DPR has also dismissed the allegation as untrue.”