Saturday, November 27, 2021

Firm Seeks NASS’ Intervention On Atala Oil Field Revocation

Oil rig
Oil rig

Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL), one of the Joint Venture Partners with Bayelsa Oil Company Ltd, and Century Exploration and Production Limited have approached the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition over the revocation of their ownership of the Atala Field (OML 46) and the rewarding of same to another company, Halkin Exploration and Production Limited by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). 

In a letter to the committee dated September 24, 2021, HONL complained of alleged fraud, criminal breach of trust, forgery, corruption and the improper manner in which the DPR revoked its licence and prayed the committee to invite Halkin Exploration and Production Limited to clarify its claim to have invested $60,000,000 in the Atala Marginal Field and the acquisition of 41 per cent of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited’s participating interest in the Atala Field, both of which claims that founded DPR’s and the Hon. Minister of Petroleum Resources’ justification for the re-award of the field.

The committee, through its chairman, Sen. Ayo Akinyelure, granted the prayer by inviting Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited, Bayelsa Oil Company Limited, Century Exploration and Production Limited, DPR and Halkin Exploration and Production Limited in a letter dated October 15, 2021, to appear for a public hearing.

Science Nigeria understands that Halkin, through its managing director, Mr. Ebikabowei Dorgu, requested a two-week extension to enable the company to put together its documentation for proper presentation – which was granted by the committee.

However, it was gathered that rather than attend the hearing as rescheduled by the committee on November 4, Halkin, wrote a letter through its solicitors stating that it had on November 2, 2021, filed an action at a Federal High Court to challenge the committee’s sitting – a move which was interpreted by the committee as an attempt to impede the performance of the oversight functions of the Legislature and resolved to continue with the hearing; cognizant of the fact that Hardy Oil’s petition was pending at the National Assembly before the action filed by Halkin on November 4, 2021 and that Halkin’s action constituted an attempt to use the judicial arm of government to stultify the performance of the constitutional responsibilities of the Legislature, an equal and independent arm of government. The public seating was adjourned to the first week of December 2021. 

Commenting on the development, JV Partners stated that the Corporate Affairs Commission’s records of Halkin Exploration and Production Limited showed that the company was only incorporated on September 29, 2019. Meanwhile, the field development and production of the Atala Marginal Field were achieved between 2004 and 2018, long before Halkin was incorporated. 

JV Partners further stated that it had, so far, invested over USD 89,000,000 in developing the Atala Field between 2004 and 2018, while the field was producing and paying royalties to the Federal Government of Nigeria before the improper revocation of its license and alleged that there were moves to reap from its efforts. 

Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited had called for a thorough investigation of Halkin’s investment claims in the Atala Field and further challenged Halkin to show proof of the alleged farm-in agreement with BOCL and, by extension, the Atala JV Partners, as well as evidence of its alleged investment of $60,000,000 in the Atala Field through the production of its bank statement of accounts showing evidence of the alleged funds transfer from its bank account and the funds’ destination account, as well as the company’s audited accounts and tax records as a way of enabling the committee to determine the truth or otherwise of Halkin’s claim.

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