On 14 September 2019, Eni initiated the arbitration process against Nigeria in Washington at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the World Bank organisation that judges international contract matters.
With the support of London-based law firm Three Crowns and Lagos-based firm Aluko & Oyebode, Eni has requested the ICSID to assess the Nigerian government’s conduct with regard to the agreement signed in 2011, which granted Eni and Shell exploration rights to OPL 245.
Although the Nigerian government has not revoked Eni and Shell’s oil exploration licence, it has yet to convert it into an extraction licence (Oil Mining Lease OML), therefore blocking production in the oilfield since 2011.
The investments made by the two companies to date for exploration amount to $2.5 billion.
OPL 245 expires in May 2021. The delay in starting production is thus depriving Nigeria of a considerable source of income. But if OPL 245 is not converted into an OML, $2.5 billion in investments already made by Eni and Shell to win the exploratory licence and carry out research will have been for nothing. The request for arbitration is intended to avoid this waste of resources and missed opportunity.