Shell Nigeria, has begun the legal battle to recover the oil block it bought from Malabu Oil and Gas Limited. The company filed an application to discharge the court order forfeiting OPL 45 to the federal government.
Shell bought the block for $1.1 billion dollars supposedly from the government. Ultimately the money found its way to Dan Etete. Malabu, owned by former petroleum minister Dan Etete acquired the block from the federal government in 1998 for $20 million dollars. He was also petroleum minister at the time.
Allegations of underhand dealings in the transaction ensued. Several top ranking civil servants and politicians were alleged to have collected bribes. Hence the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) going to court, which lead to the interim forfeiture order.
The ultimate loser will be the federal government. Shell will apply legal and informal means to recover the block. The government will capitulate because Shell is an influential player in the industry, and it badly needs to maintain investor confidence. Dan Etete is out of the country. The case will go back and forth for years, while the alleged bribes are being dissipated. A tale often repeated in the arcane oil and gas industry.