Optimum Petroleum Development Company Limited (OPDCL) has addressed the ongoing dispute involving Afren Investment Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited and Lekoil 310 Limited.
According to Optimum, both companies failed to obtain the necessary consent from Optimum and the Minister of Petroleum for the transfer of shares to Lekoil, including the 22.86 percent participating interest in OPL 310.
In response to media reports, Optimum highlighted a Federal High Court judgment delivered on March 28, 2019. The court, presided over by Justice M. Hassan, ruled in favor of Optimum and the Minister of Petroleum in suit No. FHC/L/CS/482/18. The court found that Lekoil had not acquired the shares of Afren, rendering their purported acquisition of interest in Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 310 incomplete and invalid. Consequently, the court dismissed the suit as lacking in merit.
Optimum’s Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Bunu, emphasized that as per the court’s judgment, the transfer of shares from Afren to Lekoil, along with the indirect transfer of the 22.86 percent interest in OPL 310, could not be obtained without the consent of both Optimum and the Petroleum Minister. Furthermore, the judgment revealed that Afren and Lekoil had failed to secure the necessary consent from Optimum and the Petroleum Minister before the purported share transfer from Afren to Lekoil took place.
Following the initial judgment, Lekoil and Afren filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal in Lagos. However, they subsequently withdrew the appeal by filing a notice of withdrawal on May 16, 2019. This action confirms the previous judgment as final, valid, subsisting, and binding.
“Optimum notes with great concern some recent publications purportedly issued by Afren titled: “Notice of caution to all persons dealing or considering dealing with the 22.86 percent participating interest held by Afren Investment Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited in OPL 310 pursuant to consent by the Minister of Petroleum Resources in accordance with Nigerian Petroleum Law,” which were published in the media recent.
“Aside from the fact that no name or position in Afren was indicated as the author of the said publications on behalf of Afren, the said publications concealed or otherwise misrepresented material facts concerning the proceedings before the court and the subsistence of an ex parte order of injunction granted by the court on March 30, 2023, in another suit initiated by the same plaintiffs after the said final judgment of the same court on March 28, 2019, to wit: suit No. FHC/L/CS/563/2023 – Afren & Lekoil v. Optimum,” the statement added.