Monday, 5 November 2012

Nigeria: North–South Petroleum farm-out

North–South Petroleum, the owner of oil prospectinglicence (OPL) 326, is looking to farm out a 30 per cent stake in the block. Meanwhile, a behind-the-scenes drama over the management of the company has been revealed. The chair used to be Senator Abu Ibrahim and the company was managed by one Geoffrey C. Oherne as managing director. Oherne who is trained as a lawyer and is a close friend of former Rivers State governor Peter Odili , seems to have had a serious falling-out with the suspected 'closet' owners of the company, one of whom has been named as former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar .

The breach is said to have occurred about nine months ago. As part of the episode, Oherne was apparently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and turned for help to his contacts in the presidency but was told there was nothing they could do. He then attempted to reach out to Minister for Petroleum Resources Diezani Allison-Madueke , who in turn contacted EFCC chair Ibrahim Lamorde on his behalf. Lamorde informed them, however, that he could to nothing to assist Oherne in his predicament as the order for his arrest had 'come from above.'

The company is now said to be run by Chris Okoli , and Abubakar may have sold his stake in OPL 326 for $50 million to Okoli and two others – Bello Isa Bayero and an unnamed Odugua – after kicking Oherne out. Industry sources have revealed that OPL 326 has very low prospects.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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