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Malabu: FG Slams Shell, Eni With $1.1bn Lawsuit in UK

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  • Malabu: FG Slams Shell, Eni With $1.1bn Lawsuit in UK

The Federal Government said it had filed a $1.1bn lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in a commercial court in London on Thursday in relation to a 2011 oilfield deal in Nigeria.

The two oil majors are embroiled in a long-running corruption case revolving around the purchase of Oil Prospecting Licence 245.

OPL 245, which is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels, is also at the heart of an ongoing corruption trial in Milan, Italy, in which former and current Shell and Eni officials are on the bench.

Milan prosecutors alleged bribes totalling around $1.1bn were paid to win the licence to explore the field which, because of disputes, had never entered into production.

The new London case also related to payments made by the companies to get the OPL 245 oilfield licence in 2011, Reuters reported on Thursday.

“It is alleged that purchase monies purportedly paid to the Federal Republic of Nigeria were in fact immediately paid through a company controlled by Dan Etete, formerly the Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, and used for, among other things, bribes and kickbacks,” Nigeria said on Thursday.

“Accordingly, it is alleged that Shell and Eni engaged in bribery and unlawful conspiracy to harm the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that they dishonestly assisted corrupt Nigerian government officials.”

The Nigerian government also included Nigeria-based Malabu Oil & Gas in the lawsuit, and a company called Energy Venture Partners Ltd., according to Bloomberg.

Malabu was allegedly controlled by Etete, who took possession of the $1.1bn payment and used it for bribes and kickbacks, according to the lawsuit.

Antonio Secci, a lawyer for Etete, was quoted as saying that the London suit “surprises” because the Nigerian government is already seeking damages in Milan.

“This situation cannot be represented again in London because it is repetitive,” he said.

Shell said “the 2011 settlement of long-standing legal disputes related to OPL 245 was a fully legal transaction with Eni and the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the most senior officials of the relevant ministries.”

Eni was quoted as saying in an emailed statement that it rejected “any allegation of impropriety or irregularity in connection with this transaction.”

“Eni (…) signed a commercial agreement in 2011 for a new licence for OPL 245 with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the consideration for the licence was paid directly to the Nigerian government,” it said.

Nigeria has already filed a London case against a US bank, JPMorgan, for its role in transferring over $800m of government funds to Etete, who has been convicted of money laundering.

In another separate trial, a Milan court in September found a middleman guilty of corruption after prosecutors alleged he had received a mandate from Etete, who had denied any wrongdoing, to find a buyer for OPL 245, collecting $114m for his services.

Last month, a global anti-corruption and accountability watchdog group, Global Witness, calculated that the OPL 245 deal deprived Nigeria of double its annual education and healthcare budget.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday

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Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.

Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.

Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.

While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.

According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.

“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”

Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.

The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.

I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.

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Crude Oil

Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts

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Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.

OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.

Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”

Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.

Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.

Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.

“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”

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Gold

Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin

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Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges

Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.

The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.

The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.

We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.

Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.

Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.

In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.

 

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