Adewale Sanyaolu with agency reports
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has said that it had closed its inquiry into Shell and Eni over a 2011 $1.3 billion acquisition of a Nigerian offshore oilfield, popularly known as the Malabu oil deal.
Royal Dutch Shell announced yesterday, that it had been informed by the U.S. DoJ on the latest development.
“The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has notified us that it has closed its inquiry into Shell in relation to OPL 245. We understand that this is based on the facts available to the DoJ, including ongoing legal proceedings in Europe,” Shell said in a statement.
Eni said the DoJ had closed its investigation into Eni over alleged corruption in the OPL245 case as well as a separate case in Algeria.
Shell and Italy’s Eni are both currently on trial in Milan on graft allegations revolving around the acquisition of the OPL 245 oilfield.
Malabu, an indigenous oil and gas company, was allocated Block 245 in 1998, where other local companies were similarly allocated oil blocks, which under the guidelines, they were required to develop in partnership with international technical partners.
Malabu paid $2 million out of the stipulated $20million at the time, and entered into a joint operation agreement with Shell Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD). The company received its operating license in April 2001 but the same license was revoked in July 2001.
The Federal Government then curiously invited Exxon Mobil and Shell, Malabu’s technical partner, to bid for the same OPL 245 as contractors in partnership with the NNPC. Shell won the bid and proceeded to begin work on the oil block. However, Malabu cried out that its former technical partner, Shell, had acted in bad faith, by conniving with the government to grab OPL 245 for itself.