Nigeria: Shell admits that it knew part of money paid for OPL 245 block would go to Malabu Oil and Gas
(Ecofin Agency) - Coming as a new development in the OPL 245 block scandal, Royal Dutch Shell admitted that it knew that part of the payments it made to Nigeria's governement for the rights to the block would be transferred to Malabu Oil and Gas.
This was revealed by Shell spokesman, Andy Norman, in an email to Reuters. The representative said the group was aware that the government “would compensate Malabu to settle its claim on the block”. This contradicts the group’s former version where it claimed that all the money it paid under the deal went to the Nigerian government.
Malabu Oil and Gas which was owned by Dan Etete (photo), previously minister of oil in Nigeria (from 1995 to 1998), had control over the block. A fact which Shell says it did not know about. “Over time, it became clear to us that Etete was involved in Malabu and that the only way to resolve the impasse through a negotiated settlement was to engage with Etete and Malabu, whether we liked it or not,” Norman said.
Regarding the controversial oil block, the deal for its acquisition dates from 2011. In the eye of the storm are Shell, Eni and many Nigerian authorities including Etete who was convicted in France for money laundering. In details, Shell and Eni paid about $1.3 billion to the Nigerian government. However, it was discovered that 70% of the money was wired to Malabu’s accounts.
The controversial block is considered the largest oil block in Africa with over 9 billion barrels of crude and is located in the Niger Delta region.