OPL 245 does not grant the right to exploit any acreage, but provides an opportunity to explore the area. This activity required significant investments – amounting to several hundred million euros – and will require further investments worth billions over a number of years to come before having any chance to proceed with full-scale oil production activities. To date, not a single oil barrel has been drilled.
The acquisition of OPL 245 Block by Shell and Eni has been the subject of incorrect and speculative interpretations since 2011. In particular, there are at least seven incorrect aspects dealt with both by NGOs - which filed petitions with the Court and the Supervisory Authorities, and by certain news media.
These interpretations are intended to contest Eni’s probity and transparency. Here below, we will demonstrate, through objective and documentary evidence, that Eni acted in full compliance with the law and the company procedures.
From a judicial point of view, we must immediately highlight how the rightness of Eni’s behaviour has been confirmed by the Court of Milan, which on 17 March 2021 acquitted Eni, its chief executive Claudio Descalzi and the management team involved in procedures relating to the OPL 245 affair on every count, stating that was unfounded. At this link you can read the legal grounds behind the decision.
On 19 July 2022, before the second division of the Milan Appeal Court, the Assistant Attorney General – Celestina Gravina – waived the appeal against the Court’s decision, thus concluding the criminal legal proceedings relating to OPL 245.
The Assistant Attorney General’s decision to waive the possibility to appeal means that the not guilty verdicts for Eni and its managers already given in March 2021 have become definitive judgements under the Italian legal system.
Lastly, on 11 November 2022, the Court of Appeal of Milan has rejected the action requested by Nigeria’s plaintiff, who aimed at obtaining compensation within the OPL 245 proceedings, thus confirming the first-instance ruling and condemning Nigeria to bear all court fees.
After more than eight years of investigations and legal proceedings, leading to very high costs and serious and unjust reputational consequences for the company and its management, justice eventually took its course, confirming with a definitive sentence the complete acquittal, because “there is no case to answer”.