Statoil to fight Nigeria ruling on Agbami oil field deal

Statoil vowed to fight a Nigerian court ruling that it must honour its agreement with Mr. John Abebe about sharing profits from crude oil export earnings from the deepwater Agbami oil field. Statoil, which is 67% owned by the Norwegian state, said that maintained that the claimant was owed nothing and that it had a good case to ultimately win. “We disagree with the ruling. We believe we have a strong legal case to reject all legal claims which are unsubstantiated,” Statoil spokesman Baard Glad Pedersen told Platts. He said his group had taken leave to appeal the decision at a higher court. A court in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, on Monday ordered Statoil to honour its agreement with John Abebe about sharing profits from crude oil export earnings from the Agbami field, as the newspapers reported Tuesday.

Statoil had been locked in a contractual dispute with the Nigerian and his company Inducon Nigeria Ltd. involving the payment of millions of dollars in consultancy fees. Delivering judgment in the case, judge Charles Achibong ruled that Statoil could not deny the net profit interest agreement between its former partner, BP, Abebe and Inducon, having inherited the BP’s stake in their joint oil investment in the country, the newspapers reported. The judge further held that Abebe and his firm were entitled to 1.5% of the net profit and accruable income of Statoil from the Agbami field. The court awarded Naira 500,000 ($3,333) costs in favor of Abebe.

Statoil on Tuesday said that it was sticking to its guns that Abebe was owed nothing despite reports from the Nigerian that he expected to be paid between $1 billion and $2 billion in revenues. “We believe we will be able to reject all claims.. and we will continue to argue our case in the legal system,” spokesman Baard Glad Pedersen told Platts. “We consider the right figure to be zero,” he added.

The court also ordered Statoil to open an escrow account with a reputable financial institution within the jurisdiction of the court where all revenues, income, funds, profit proceeds and earnings from Statoil’s 18.5% interest in Agbami should be deposited.

Statoil in February denied the claims made by Abebe for millions of dollars in consultancy fees. Statoil had maintained that it had, once together with BP, had a consultancy contract with Abebe, but that it had been terminated long ago and that there were no outstanding financial claims.