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Nigeria orders forfeiture of Shell, Eni oilfield in corruption probe

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Staff Writer | January 27, 2017
Shell Nigeria
Oil exploration   $1.3 billion purchase of OPL 245

A Nigerian court has ordered the temporary forfeiture of assets and the transfer of operations of a long-disputed oilfield owned by Shell and Eni, among others.

The court orders will last until Nigeria's anti-corruption agency concludes an investigation into how the current owners acquired oil prospecting licence (OPL) 245, according to court papers.

This is the latest of many inquiries, including by Dutch and Italian authorities, into the 2011 purchase of the OPL 245 block which could hold up to 9.23 billion barrels of oil, according to industry figures.

The inquiry will investigate whether the $1.3 billion purchase of OPL 245 involved "acts of conspiracy, bribery, official corruption and money laundering," the court papers said.

The oil field's licence was initially awarded in 1998 by former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he held shares.

It was then sold for $1.3 billion in 2011 to Eni and Shell. According to documents from a British court, Malabu received $1.09 billion from the sale, while the rest went to the Nigerian government.

Italian prosecutors in December wrapped up a probe into the head of Eni, its former CEO, the company itself and Shell over alleged corruption surrounding the licence's acquisition, sources told Reuters at the time.


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