Shell Files Lawsuit Against Centrica, Repsol on Nigeria Blocks

LONDON May 17, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Abuja Nigeria against three companies over the award of two oil and gas blocks in last week's licensing rounds.

Shell is seeking to void the award of oil mining leases 13 and 16 to Repsol Nigeria Ltd, a unit of Repsol YPF SA (REP), Centrica CCC Oil & Gas, a unit of U.K. utility Centrica PLC (CPYYY), and Indian firm Sterling Global E&P.

"Shell has taken action against the firms because we believe they interfered unlawfully with Shell Petroleum Development Corp.'s contract in respect to OML 13 and OML 16," a statement read Wednesday by a Shell spokesman said.

Shell is also suing Nigeria's Department of Petroleum Resources over the auction of the two blocks, but the spokesman wasn't able to comment because of the sensitive nature of the case.

The Nigerian government withdrew the two blocks from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, a unit operated by Shell, for its failure to develop the field over the last 18 years.

Shell has sued the government over plans to re-award the blocks, but the government has countered by filing an objection to Shell's suit.

"The OMLs should not be sold until I give my ruling on the preliminary objection," The Punch newspaper quoted Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja as saying last week.

Murtala-Nyako said she would deliver her ruling on the government's objection on May 17.

Shell Petroleum Development Co. is a joint venture operated by Shell, which owns 30%, the Nigerian National Petroleum Co., which owns 55%, Total SA (TOT) with 10% and Eni SpA (E) unit Agip SpA with 5%.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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