Regulator Counters Seplat Over Buhari’s Approval For $1.82bn Acquisition Of Mobil Offshore Assets

Seplat Energy Plc, a leading Nigerian energy company, on Monday said it has received a letter from Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved that Ministerial Consent be granted for the cash acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Mobil Development Nigeria Inc (MDNI) and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc (MENI), entities of Exxon Mobil Corporation registered in Delaware, USA (ExxonMobil).

The Ministerial approval, Seplat said in its statement by Emeka Onwuka, its Chief Financial officer, and filed with the Nigerian Exchange Limited, was given by President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, with the granting of Ministerial Consent pursuant to the powers of the Minister under Paragraphs 14-16 of the First Schedule of the Petroleum Act, 1969. A separate announcement from the State House was released earlier.

In the letter, the President as HMPR directed that the HMSPR shall convey Ministerial Consent to all relevant parties, including but not limited to the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), the ExxonMobil companies, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“FCCPC”), and Seplat Energy/Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.

The President further directed that the HMSPR shall ensure that the ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy operating entity (being MPNU) carries out operatorship of all the OMLs in the related shallow water assets to optimise production in support of Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetisation of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy.

The company appreciated President Buhari for the Ministerial Consent to the landmark acquisition of the entire share capital of MPNU, noting that transformational transaction will create one of the largest independent energy companies on both the Nigerian and London Stock Exchanges, and bolster Seplat Energy’s ability to drive increased growth, profitability and overall stakeholder prosperity.

But in a swift reaction some hours later, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) issued a statement affirming that as the sole regulator agency on such matter, its earlier decline of Ministerial assent remains in place.

Seplat Energy had in its statement recalled its February 25, 2022, announcement that it had agreed to acquire the entire share capital of MPNU for a purchase price of $1.283bn, plus up to $300m contingent consideration.

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