The true story of OPL 245

Eni and its managers definitively acquitted. An “unmotived and disconcerting case” comes to an end.

The acquisition of Block 245 in Nigeria

Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 covers a defined deep-water offshore area (over 1,000 m bsl), approximately 150 km off the Niger Delta. 


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”.

The Milan court case: story of an acquittal

The proceedings relating to the OPL 245 affair have come to a close.

Drumcliffe’s involvement in the OPL 245 case

A new side to the OPL 245 case has emerged in the state of Delaware, which has the most lenient corporate laws in the United States.

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Eni files an appeal for international arbitration against Nigeria

If OPL 245 is not converted into a mining licence, Nigeria will be deprived of a considerable source of income. The ICSID is intervening.

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Fact checking of the 7 key facts regarding Block 245

Documentary evidence debunks the “news” that has been circulating about this case.

OPL 245 delivers great benefits to Nigeria

As OpenEconomics research centre showed the development of the block would bring significant economic and social benefits to the Nigeria. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM to state that they would be impoverished.

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The cost of the operation was fair and reasonable

The price was reasonable and appropriate to the characteristics of OPL 245, the terms of the contract and the oil and gas market development. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM to state that the cost was inflated.

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Eni made the payment directly to the government

Eni paid the agreed amount to the Nigerian government pursuant to a legitimate contract entered into therewith. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM to state that Eni made illegal payments to Malabu.

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Eni was unaware of how Malabu used the funds

Eni was not obliged to know, nor did it know, the use and recipients of the funds Malabu received by the Nigerian Government. IT IS FALSE that Eni knew of Malabu’s illegal actions after the operation.

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Emeka Obi did not act on behalf of Eni

The broker acted on behalf of Malabu, not Eni. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM to state that Eni made use of a concealed broker.

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Eni’s senior management received no bribes

The charges were disproven by witnesses and experts in court, as well as by the Guardia di Finanza back in 2016. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM to state that Eni’s senior managers collected the alleged bribes.

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Eni complied with the audit procedures

In the operation Eni complied its internal procedures, international best practices and implemented all accounting and industrial audits. IT IS A FALSE CLAIM that Eni infringed control procedures.

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