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Shell Probed in Italy Over $1.1bn Nigerian Scandal

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Shell

Italian prosecutors are investigating Royal Dutch Shell as part of a probe into the acquisition of an offshore oil field in Nigeria, the Anglo-Dutch company said on Wednesday.

Oil Prospecting Licence 245 was said to have been purchased in 2011 by Shell and Eni for $1.3bn. But corruption scandal has continued to trail the transaction.

“We can confirm we have received notice of proceedings from the public prosecutor in Italy,” Reutersquoted a Shell spokesman to have said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a judicial source told Reuters that Shell was under investigation by Milan-based judges for alleged international corruption.

Shell headquarters in The Hague were searched in February by Dutch police and prosecutors as part of this new strand of investigations, the company spokesman also said.

In 2014, a Milan court placed Eni under investigation over the $1.3bn purchase in 2011 of OPL 245 offshore oil block by the Italian major and Shell.

Prosecutors later widened their investigation to include Eni’s Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi.

Eni and Descalzi have denied any wrongdoing. The state-controlled oil company has always said it dealt exclusively with the government of Nigeria, paid fees into a government account and did not use intermediaries for the transaction.

“Shell is cooperating with the authorities and is looking into the allegations, which it takes seriously,” the spokesman said, adding, “Shell attaches the greatest importance to business integrity, one of our core values.”

Italian prosecutors are working jointly with an anti-fraud team in the Netherlands in order to determine whether the two oil companies paid bribes to obtain licences for the Nigerian site, the judicial source said, confirming reports by Italy’s daily Corriere della Sera.

The OPL 245, which has been at the centre of a series of long-standing disputes, was initially awarded in 1998 by former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete, to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company in which he was a shareholder.

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

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Dangote Group Expands Refinery Storage Capacity to 5.3 Billion Litres

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Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Group has announced a significant expansion of its refinery storage capacity.

The expansion, disclosed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, during his address at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Currently boasting a storage capacity of 4.78 billion litres, the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery is set to increase this figure by an additional 600 million litres, bringing the total capacity to an impressive 5.3 billion litres.

This expansion underscores Dangote’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into a hub for refined petroleum products and solidifies the refinery’s role as a strategic reserve for the nation.

Addressing stakeholders at the forum, Dangote highlighted the refinery’s pivotal role in addressing longstanding challenges in Nigeria’s energy sector, particularly the absence of strategic reserves for petrol.

“The country doesn’t have strategic reserves in terms of petrol, which is very dangerous. But in our plant now, when you came, we had only 4.78 billion litres of various tankage capacity. But right now, we’re adding another 600 million,” Dangote affirmed.

The expansion comes amidst various operational challenges faced by the refinery, including attempts by international oil companies to hinder its operations.

Dangote asserted that these challenges, aimed at impeding the success of the refinery, were indicative of broader resistance to change within the oil industry.

“We borrowed the money based on our balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of a lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time,” Dangote revealed, emphasizing the resilience required to overcome these obstacles.

Moreover, Dangote expressed optimism regarding the refinery’s capacity to influence regional fuel prices, citing the success story of diesel price reduction following the refinery’s market entry.

He indicated that while petrol pricing remains a complex issue governed by governmental policies, the refinery’s operations would strive to offer competitive pricing and supply stability.

The expansion of the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery not only marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s industrial landscape but also positions the conglomerate as a key player in reshaping Africa’s energy dynamics.

As construction progresses towards completion, the refinery aims to further consolidate its role in meeting regional energy demands and fostering economic growth across West Africa.

With plans to commence sales of refined products in the coming months, Dangote’s refinery is poised to play a transformative role in Nigeria’s quest for energy independence and regional economic integration.

As stakeholders await the refinery’s operational debut, expectations are high for its potential to drive down fuel prices and enhance energy security across the region.

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Musk Secures Shareholder Support for Compensation and Texas Relocation

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Elon Musk

Tesla Inc. shareholders have voted in favor of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s compensation package and the company’s state of incorporation change to Texas.

The results, announced at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Thursday, reflect shareholder approval despite challenges such as declining sales and a significant drop in stock price.

Musk had hinted at the likely outcome the night before the meeting in a post on X, stating that both resolutions were “passing by wide margins.”

The electric car manufacturer did not disclose the detailed breakdown of the votes.

The approval of Musk’s pay package, although advisory, demonstrates continued investor support for his leadership.

The package had previously been nullified by a Delaware judge in January, but Tesla plans to appeal. Should the appeal fail, relocating Tesla’s legal home to Texas may provide the board an opportunity to reintroduce the compensation plan under potentially more favorable legal conditions.

Originally approved in 2018 with 73% of the vote, Musk’s compensation plan makes him eligible for up to $55.8 billion in stock options if Tesla achieves specific milestones.

Currently, the value of these options is approximately $48.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk’s leadership has been a topic of significant debate, particularly in light of his oversight of six companies and his tendency toward abrupt strategic changes.

Earlier this year, Musk orchestrated Tesla’s largest layoffs to date, only to rehire some of the affected workers weeks later.

In addition to the compensation package, shareholders voted to reelect James Murdoch and Kimbal Musk to Tesla’s board.

Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has served on the board since 2017, while Kimbal Musk, Elon’s younger brother, has been a member since 2004.

Tesla’s stock saw a modest increase of 0.3% in extended trading following the announcement, though the stock had fallen about 27% over the year compared to a 14% gain in the S&P 500 Index.

During the annual meeting, held at Tesla’s Austin headquarters, shareholders showed enthusiastic support as Musk took the stage in a black Cybertruck T-shirt.

He shared updates on the company’s progress, including the introduction of three new models, the expansion of the Supercharger network, and record production levels for Cybertrucks.

“A lot of people said Cybertruck was fake, never going to come out. Now we’re shipping a lot of Cybertrucks,” Musk stated.

In addressing his substantial pay package, Musk clarified that it is structured as options requiring him to hold Tesla stock for five years. “I can’t cut and run, nor would I want to,” he said.

The push for shareholder support involved a dedicated “Vote Tesla” website and advertising on X, with Tesla investors and executives vocalizing their backing for Musk.

Despite some opposition from significant investors like Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the measures passed.

The relocation to Texas has been formalized, with the certificate of conversion available on the Texas Secretary of State website.

However, any future compensation plan will need to be restructured to comply with Texas legal standards, should the Delaware appeal fail.

The recent shareholder vote may enhance Tesla’s position in the forthcoming appeal. Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick’s January decision to void the compensation package cited conflicts of interest and inadequate disclosure.

The appeal’s outcome, expected later this year, will determine the next steps for Musk’s compensation plan.

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Merger and Acquisition

Exxon Mobil’s Sale to Seplat Progresses After NNPC Drops Legal Challenge

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exxonmobil

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has withdrawn its legal challenge against Exxon Mobil Corp.’s sale of its oil and gas assets to Seplat Energy Plc.

This decision eliminates a major obstacle that had stalled the completion of the $1.3 billion deal.

The NNPC submitted an application to the high court in Abuja to discontinue the case, as confirmed by its legal firm, Afe Babalola, in an email on Thursday.

This move follows an agreement reached last month between NNPC and Exxon Mobil to finalize the transaction under undisclosed terms.

However, court documents reviewed by Bloomberg reveal that NNPC retains the right to resume its legal challenge if the settlement terms are not honored.

The sale, initially signed in February 2022, still requires approvals from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), which has set an August deadline, and from Nigerian President Bola Tinubu.

The NNPC’s withdrawal significantly advances the deal but does not mark its final hurdle.

The addition of Exxon Mobil’s blocks will significantly enhance Seplat’s portfolio, almost quadrupling its output to over 130,000 barrels per day.

This acquisition is set to bolster Seplat’s status as one of the leading suppliers of domestic gas to Nigerian power plants, fortifying its influence in the region.

In a parallel development, Shell Plc’s divestment of its Nigerian onshore oil business to a consortium of local firms, valued at over $1.3 billion, also awaits regulatory approval after being announced in January.

Both deals highlight the ongoing restructuring and consolidation within Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, aimed at increasing efficiency and local participation.

As Nigeria navigates these substantial industry shifts, the successful completion of the Exxon Mobil-Seplat deal will be a critical indicator of the nation’s ability to manage large-scale energy transactions.

It will also set a precedent for future agreements and regulatory processes in the country’s vital oil and gas sector.

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