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Buhari retracts, supports regulator’s rejection of Seplat’s purchase of ExxonMobil asset

President Muhammadu Buhari has reversed his authorisation of Seplat Energy’s takeover of ExxonMobil’s shallow water business in Nigeria, throwing his weight instead behind the regulator’s decline of the $1.3 billion transaction.

A spokesperson said the president decided the position of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) is to be supported, and the earlier confusion was because “various agencies involved in (the) decision had not coordinated well among themselves.”
“It has become clear that the various agencies involved in decision had not coordinated well among themselves and having looked at all of the facts with all of the ramifications, the president decided the position of the regulator is to be supported,” spokesperson Garba Shehu told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday evening in response to persistent enquiry by one of our reporters.

The NUPRC had on Monday said the proposed takeover of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat, an indigenous oil firm, was a regulatory matter and it had notified ExxonMobil the transaction could not go through.

“As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the Commission had earlier communicated the decline of Ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such the Commission further affirms that the status quo remains,” said a statement by NUPRC chief executive, Gbenga Komolafe.

“The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) affirms that status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition. Responding to media enquiries on latest development about the transaction, the Chief Executive of the NUPRC Engr. Gbenga Komolafe clarified that the Commission in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 is the sole regulator in dealing with such matters in the Nigerian upstream sector.

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The statement came a few hours after presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina said President Buhari had approved the sale to Seplat.

Mr Adesina said president Buhari approved the transfer in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources and the approval was in consonance with the country’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector and considering the “extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy.”

ExxonMobil entered into a landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc. earlier this year.

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