Despite demands by the Trade Union Council (TUC) that the acquisition of 45 per cent stake by Heritage Oil in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30, the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom-listed company, Tony Buckingham has come out to defend the acquisition, insisting that the details of the transaction were fully disclosed and that final approval had been granted by the Nigerian Government.
The company said the acquisition had since been approved by the government and was completed in November.
“The acquisition was made in partnership with Shoreline Energy, a leading private Nigerian energy and infrastructure company which was founded in 1997. OML 30 will be operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) which also owns 55 per cent of the asset,” said the emailed statement from Buckingham.
In June last year, Heritage and Shoreline Energy, a Nigerian company together acquired 45 per cent in one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks for $850million in a move the UK company said would transform the company. The successful completion of the acquisition was announced in November.
However, the deal did not go down well with the TUC after media reports revealed that a key player in the deal and founder and leading shareholder of Heritage, Tony Buckingham has had a murky past.
President of the TUC, Peter Esele, over the weekend called on President Goodluck Jonathan and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Dieziani Allison-Madueke to do all in their power to cancel the transaction, pointing out that Nigeria had become the “laughing stock in Europe going by the deal.”
He also said that labour unions would hold the ministry responsible for failing to carry out due diligence on Heritage and its ownership before approving the sale of the asset.
OML 30 was the most promising of five oil blocks put up for sale by Shell (30 per cent), French oil company, Total (10 per cent) and Italy’s Eni (10 per cent) in 2011. The block covers eight producing fields and associated infrastructure, including nine flow stations with a combined capacity of more than 400,000 barrels per day and segment of the 850,000 barrels per day Trans Forcados pipeline.
The oil block is estimated to have gross proved and provable reserves of 707 million barrels of oil and 2.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.