Neconde Energy Limited, the operator of oil mining lease (OML) 42, has denied bribery allegation with a former Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa, Shell, Peter Robinson, during the acquisition of the oil field divested by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In a statement denying the allegation, Neconde management accused Shell of malicious intention. The company noted that “Local and international media have published some news articles on the current investigation of a former Vice-President of Shell in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Robinson, in connection with a case of suspected bribery in the acquisition of Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 in Nigeria by Italy’s ENI and Shell. The same news reports also allege the involvement of Robinson in a suspected kickback in the acquisition of OML 42 by Neconde in 2011.”
Neconde stated further, in an open and competitive bid in early 2011, acquired the 45 per cent joint equity interest in OML 42 in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria from Shell, Total and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Nigerian subsidiary of Eni. The acquisition was financed by a consortium of reputable local and international financiers.
Thus, “At the time of the acquisition, Neconde was aware that Mr. Robinson was a Vice President in Shell. However, other than the legitimate business of acquisition of OML 42 for which full consideration was furnished, Neconde did not have any other formal, or informal dealing with Mr. Robinson. For the acquisition of OML 42, Neconde paid the full consideration provided by its financiers and in accordance with the competitive bid process adopted by the three International Oil Companies (IOCs).”
The company revealed that at the end of the bidding process, these three IOCs unanimously agreed, at their respective highest decision-making levels, to the sale of OML 42 to Neconde. Neconde did not pay any money, in whatever guise, to Mr. Robinson or any other person in Shell, TOTAL or NAOC to facilitate the acquisition of their joint interest in OML 42. It pointed out that it completely denies any allegation or suspicion of bribery for the acquisition of its interest in OML 42 and the statement credited to Shell suggesting the contrary, is untrue.
This allegation by Shell, Neconde said, may not be unconnected with an ongoing arbitration instituted by Neconde against Shell in London in connection with Shell’s alleged diversion of crude oil worth millions of US Dollars from OML 42 after the acquisition of the 45 per cent joint equity interest by Neconde and for other infractions.
Neconde views the unwarranted allegation of bribery as defamatory and is seriously considering its legal option because it is a calculated attempt to smear its image and reputation which it has built in recent times.