With reference to the article “Eni will pay very dearly”, published in the 26 March 2017 issue of “L’Espresso”, Eni wishes to point out that the piece contains numerous and serious misrepresentations of issues that easily could have been checked against open sources or simply by asking Eni for confirmation, which clearly was not considered necessary.
The article states that:
This is not true. Eni and Shell acquired the license for OPL 245 from the Nigerian government. The relevant agreements were signed by Eni exclusively with Shell and the Nigerian government (and signed on behalf of the Ministry of Oil, by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice).
The money did in fact end up in the coffers of Nigeria; the payment made by Eni and Shell to the Nigerian Government was made to an escrow account held by the government with an international bank.
In fact, the Federal High Court of Abuja decided that the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was not even in a position to meet the necessary preconditions for a request for a temporary seizure and that therefore such a request was irregular. The seizure, was consequently revoked by the court after Eni and Shell had the opportunity to make their position clear.
This is false. As is apparent from official Court documents, Eni (also on behalf of Shell) at no time attempted to pay, nor did pay, amounts into alleged accounts held in France or Lebanon. Indeed, as stated, the only payment made by Eni was to the escrow account held by the Nigerian Government.
From its initial allocation until 2011, the exploration block OPL 245 was the subject of a number of legal disputes and international arbitration involving the government of Nigeria, Shell and Malabu, given that both companies claimed rights to the block following several allocations concerning the block itself. Eni was never a party to these disputes. The reason why operations did not proceed in the block was precisely the existence of such disputes. Only after an agreement was reached between, the Government of Nigeria, Eni and Shell, was it possible to resume activities in the block. At the present time, all of the engineering studies have been completed and tenders for the award of the contracts necessary for the development of the field are ongoing. It has also been necessary to take account of the oil price crisis of the past three years, which has had a negative impact on projects in deep offshore areas that require major investments.
Finally, with regard to the headline “Eni will pay very dearly”, it should be noted that the Nigerian government has never asked for compensation of any kind from the licence holders, but rather, through its Department of Petroleum Resources has asked Eni, as the operator, to proceed with the development of the block.
More generally, Eni is obliged to point out that, over the past three years, some media sources have continued to make forced and unilateral claims that in no way correspond to the truth of a story that has yet to go before the scrutiny of a judge in a preliminary hearing. While reiterating that it acted entirely properly with regard to OPL245, Eni does not intend to try the case in the media, believing that the appropriate place is a courtroom.
In any case, Eni reserves the right to defend, in any court of law, the
reputation and dignity of its senior management and, above all, of the 100,000 people
who work directly or indirectly for Eni around the world, as well as to protect the
credibility and values that make Eni one of Italy’s most internationally appreciated