Oil & Gas

Nigeria loses bid for OPL 245 damages from Shell, Eni

An appeals court in Milan has rejected Nigeria’s claims for damages stemming from the OPL 245 scandal, ordering the government to pay costs.

Nigeria had been seeking $1.092 billion in damages from Eni and Shell. The two companies had been accused of acquiring the deepwater OPL 245 block improperly. An Italian court rejected this claim in March 2021, acquitting Shell and Eni.

Eni welcomed today’s decision.

It is not clear whether Nigeria will continue its legal quest for damages. The country also recently lost in an attempt to extract damages from Glencore for bribes paid in securing oil cargoes.

The Milan court declared the Nigerian appeal to be inadmissible, given the March 2021 finding. Eni noted the allegations had already been settled in court.

The Italian company went on to say it was carrying out arbitration against Nigeria in Washington. The aim, it said, was to secure its rights to the OPL 245 area “with respect to the overall detrimental consequences suffered in the affair”.

Eni began its International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration case in September 2019. The company said that while Nigeria had not revoked the exploration licence, it had also not converted this into a production licence.

Eni and Shell have invested $2.5bn in the licence, the Italian company said. The licence expired in May 2021.

Nigeria struck a deal for funding for its legal case with a US litigation company, Drumcliffe Partners. Should the litigation have been successful, the litigation funder might have received more than $350 million.

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