Bloomberg News

Nigerian Appeal Court Upholds Ruling Against Statoil

June 05, 2012

A Nigerian appeal court upheld a judgment recognizing a claim by a former adviser of Statoil ASA (STL) to 1.5 percent of the profit from its interest in the West African nation’s Agbami offshore oil field.

John Abebe , the former adviser, said Statoil agreed to pay him that share of the profit from its 18.9 percent stake in the field for helping the company expand in Nigeria in the 1990s. Judge Charles Archibong of the Federal High Court in Lagos ruled in his favor on Dec. 6, 2010 and Statoil appealed.

“We disagree with the ruling,” Statoil spokesman Baard Glad Pedersen said today by phone. “We think that Abebe’s claims are groundless and that we have strong legal arguments to reject all his claims. We take note of the appeal court’s assessment, and we think we have good chances to be heard by the supreme court.”

Court of Appeal Justice Helen Ogunwumiju said today in Lagos that Statoil inherited the agreement since it was reached with an alliance involving it and BP Plc (BP/), before BP left the West African nation.

The Agbami field operated by Chevron Corp. (CVX:US) started output in 2008 and last year reached 250,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, giving Statoil about 44,000 barrels a day. The field has reserves of about 900 million barrels of oil equivalent, according to Statoil.

“The panel of three judges took every point the lower court highlighted and came to their judgment,” Abebe said today in a phone interview from Lagos. “It was the only conclusion they could have come to.”

Statoil operates two other deepwater exploration licenses in Nigeria and has shares in two others, operated by Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4) and Ocean Energy Inc.

Abebe became involved with the company when it entered an alliance with BP Plc in Nigeria in the early 1990s, Statoil said on Feb. 26, 2010. Abebe, whose brother-in-law Olusegun Obasanjo was head of state in 1976-1979 and 1999-2007, worked as a consultant for BP and later joined Statoil Nigeria’s board, it said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Emele Onu in Lagos at eonu1@bloomberg.net; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net


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