Petroleum Ministry & DPR Summoned in Connection with OPL 245

The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum has summoned the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to appear before it on November 26 in connection with OPL 245 oil block.

The Federal Government had following the recommendations of the Christopher Kolade Committee set up to review all contracts awarded during the latter portion of Gen. Sani Abacha's and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar's administration. During this period several oil block licenses including OPL 245, which had been allocated to Malabu Oil had been revoked. The block was then re-allocated to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

The House Committee on Petroleum also asked the oil companies to consider relocating their headquarters to the Niger Delta region as a way of curbing increasing restiveness among the Niger Delta people.

Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum, Hon. John Halims Agoda, issued the summons yesterday at the resumed hearing of the House public hearing on OPL 245 involving Shell, Malabu Oil and Gas Company and the Ministry of Petroleum, when there were no representations from DPR and the Petroleum Ministry.

Irked by the absence of the officials of DPR and Ministry of Petroleum, Agoda said: "We will do everything to ensure that justice is done. We will take decisions based on the laws of the land. We therefore need their presence to give all parties an equal opportunity."

"I want to make sure that they are served and put on notice. In this regard, I want to direct key officials of DPR and Ministry of Petroleum to appear before this committee on November 26 and 27," he said.

The committee chairman directed DPR and Ministry of Petroleum to bring along with them the guidelines for the award of oil license to both indigenous and foreign companies. They are also to come with the guidelines for the revocation of the awards.

Malabu, an indigenous oil company, petitioned the House over the revocation of its OPL 245, which was re-awarded to Shell. The indigenous oil company in which, former Petroleum Minister Chief Dan Etete, has a major interest is claiming about $1 billion in compensatory and unspecified punitive damages.

Malabu had also in a suit in New York Manhattan Federal Court alleged that the Federal Government had granted it rights to OPL 245 in 1998, which it later re-awarded to Shell. The suit stated that seismic studies in OPL 245 showed a reserve estimate of about three billion barrels of crude oil.