Courts Orders Statoil to Pay Abebe US$25m
Justice Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered a Norwegian oil firm, Statoil Nigeria Limited to pay a businessman, Dr John Abebe and his company, Inducon Nigeria Limited about US$25 million being 1.5per cent net profit interest accruable to it from the Agbami oil field for bringing the firm to Nigeria to explore oil resources.
Delivering judgment in the suit filed by Abebe against the Statoil, Justice Archibong held that there was indeed an agreement between him, British Petroleum (BP) and Statoil contrary to the claim of the oil firm, which must be honoured.
Abebe, a former vice chairman of the oil firm, had filed the suit complaining of breach of contractual agreement against Statoil, stressing that the oil firm reneged on its promise to pay him 1.5 percent of its income on the Agbami oil field, which was about $25 million (USD).
The judge held that it was clear that there were short- term, intermediate- term and long- term remunerations in connection with the contractual agreement, resulting to the ceding of the 1.5 percent of the oil bloc to the plaintiff (Abebe).
In resolving the question of whether there was enforceable agreement in law between the plaintiffs and the defendant, the court held that though it appears that there was no written agreement, BP and by extension, Statoil engaged the plaintiff as partner and thereby took up the commitment of BP to the defendant.
This commitment with the oil firm, the judge held was not terminated or abandoned with the plaintiff, even though that Statoil later resisted it after its entrance into the Nigerian economy.
The court further directed the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigerian Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Ministry of Petroleum Resources anf Federal Ministry of Finance to ensure the continuity of the 50 percent equity agreement reached by the parties.
Besides, the court appointed the firm of J.K Randle to audit the accounts of Statoil to determine its income and make a report back to it on February 7, 2011.
The auditing of the account is to be supervised by the Chief Registrar of the court, while the auditor would receive the sum of N150million for it service.
The court, however, ruled that another reputable auditing firm may be appointed to do the job should J.K Randle declined to do it. The court also maintained its injunction restraining Statoil from either transferring, alienating and repatriating its proceeds from the Agbami oil field pending the duration of which the full accomplishment of the text of the judgment.