- The awarding of OML46 to Halkin Oil company is currently under investigation by the Senate committee on ethics and privileges and public petition
- The investigation by the Senate was prompted by a series of petitions against the company by Daniel Chukwudozie
- The petitions by Chukwudozie was sent to the Ninth Senate on behalf of Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL)
Lawmakers of the Nigerian Senate has launched an investigation into the illegal awarding of OML 46 to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited by the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
Legit.ng gathered that the licence was awarded to the company in contravention to a presidential directive on the matter.
However, while interfacing with the various groups involved in the public hearing of the matter on Tuesday, March 22, the Senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions was informed that after the revocation of the oil field, the presidency intervened.
This is in consideration of the numerous petitions from the various marginal owners and directed that the fields be rewarded on a discretionary basis with preference to the previous owners, including the Atala Oil Field.
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Assumption of the public hearing is a sequel to a petition dated October 5, 2021, and brought before the Senate by Daniel Chukwudozie, on behalf of Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL).
The petition written against the DPR alleged a breach of trust, corruption and illegal revocation of OML 46 and re-awarding same to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited, in breach of due process.
At the public hearing - a third in the series - a representative of Hardy Oil, Barrister Ike Onwuchuluba, adopted its presentation dated September 24, 2021, in addition to the annexed documents that the company had earlier submitted to the Senate committee.
Management of OML 46 by three companies
Onwuchuluba submitted the subject matter of the petition bothered on the OML46 - Atala Marginal Oil Field and the improper way and manner the field that was formerly managed by the three companies.
The companies - Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL), Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited and Century Exploration and Production (CEPL) - was revoked and handed over to a company through shady and fraudulent circumstances, ipso facto.
He stated that Halkin Exploration and Production Limited invested $60,000,000 in the Atala Marginal Field and executed a Farm-In Agreement with BOCL.
However, debunking the allegation that there was an investment of $60 million and acquisition of 41 per cent shares of BOCL by Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited said that the allocation of the field to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited was done and secured under fraudulent misrepresentation made by Halkin.
Going further, Onwuchuluba informed the Senate that the award was predicated on two reasons by the defunct DPR and was false.
He alleged that Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited was an unknown entity to the former Atala Marginal Field owners.
"They did not invest any $60m in the field, did not execute any Farm-in Agreement with BOCL and that Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited secured OML 46 under false pretence/misrepresentation."
False representations and documents
Further addressing the committee, Onwuchuluba affirmed that the man who presented himself as the managing director of Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited was the immediate past MD of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited as at the time the field was given to Halkin and stands conflicted by holding such dual positions.
"Which means that he was on one leg the MD of BOCL and on another leg the MD of Hakin. So it is not impossible that he may have used his position as the MD of BOCL to alter documents to the benefit of Halkin.
"And that the failure of DPR to verify the claims of Halkin from the Atala JV Partners was in breach of the principle of fair hearing."
Also reiterating that the re-awarding of OML46 was under false pretence and to an unknown entity, Onwuchuluba called the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Atala Marginal Field was developed between 2014 to 2018 by the trio of BOCL, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited and Century Exploration and Production Ltd whereas Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited.
He said the companies had claimed to have invested $60m in the Atala Marginal Oil Field, which was incorporated sometime on September 29, 2019, long after the field has been developed by the parties.
He also reminded the Senate committee that, as the original owner of the Oil field, the trio companies have been producing and paying royalties to the account of the federal government of Nigeria.
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According to him, as at the time the field was purportedly revoked, the JV-Partners had an outstanding 20,700 barrels of crude on the site.
He, therefore, requested that the Senate should look into the matter and urge Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to immediately reinstate Atala Marginal Oil Field OML 46 to the joint venture that owns the Oil field.
In its submissions in support, the Managing Director of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited, Bello Akpoku stated that provided the committee with a memo addressed to the minister of petroleum resources.
Akpoku said in the letter the defunct DPR stated that the field was allocated to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited for two principal reasons.
He maintained that BOCL owned 51 per cent in the Atala Marginal Field and Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited claim to have acquired 41 per cent of the 51 per cent share thereby making it the largest partner owner of the field is false.
When he was called to react to the allegations made against him and his company, the MD of Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited, Charles Dorgu, who could not put up a defence, claimed to be sick.
Dorgu urged the Senate committee to give him two weeks extension to come up with his defence to the weighty allegations.
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The Senate committee, on its part, called on the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to interface with the groups involved and look into the matter critically and report back to them in two weeks.
The lawmakers also frowned at the refusal of Dorgu to honour their invitations for two consecutive summons made previously.
According to the committee members, Dorgu had made fruitless efforts to frustrate its attempt at the hearing the petition by resorting to litigation against the National Assembly.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, thereafter directed the MD of Halkin to provide documented pieces of evidence of how the shares were acquired and evidence of the $60million investment, if actually such were made in its submissions to NUPRC.
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