Last Wednesday’s December 2, 2020, blockade of the Corporate Headquarters of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc on 16A Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos by policemen, purporting to act on behalf of the allegedly appointed Receiver/Manager, prevented its staff and other tenants from entering the building.
Independent investigations on the development show that, subsequently SEPLAT had received copies of a letter dated December 2, 2020 from Kunle Ogunba & Associates, alleging to be the appointed Receiver/Manager over the subject assets and attempting to exercise control over possession of said assets (Receiver’s Letter); and Court documents filed by Access Bank against Seplat, Cardinal and other named Defendants (Court Documents).
A review of the above documents showed that SEPLAT’s Corporate Headquarters was sealed pursuant to an ex parte interim Court Order dated November 13, 2020, which was obtained by Access Bank Plc in connection with its facility to Cardinal Drilling Services Limited.
Investigations revealed that in 2012, Cardinal Drilling Services Limited had obtained the facility from Diamond Bank (now Access Bank) to purchase the CDS Rigs 101, 201, 202 and 203. The facility was secured by a fixed and floating Debenture over Cardinal’s assets (the “Debenture”).
SEPLAT was not a party to the facility or the Debenture and did not provide any guarantees or indemnities on behalf of Cardinal or otherwise in connection with the facility. The Cardinal Rigs were used to provide drilling services to SEPLAT and other companies. In particular, CDS 101 and 201 were used to execute SEPLAT’s 2019 work programme and all 4 Rigs were critical to SEPLAT’s future drilling plans.
With the passage of time, Cardinal Drilling was unable to service the outstanding part of the facility, which Access Bank showed to be an outstanding amount of $85.8 million. It was learnt that Cardinal and Access Bank had on 15th January 2019, agreed on a settlement of $45 Million, to be paid in two (2) installments by 31st December 2019.
On 25th April 2019, Cardinal had failed to pay the 1st tranche of the settlement amount (i.e., $30 Million), which was due on or before 18th April 2019.
Given the importance of the Cardinal Rigs to SEPLAT’s operations, SEPLAT supported discussions between Cardinal and Access Bank to resolve Cardinal’s indebtedness and Access Bank’s threatened foreclosure on the Rigs.