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Buhari makes U-turn, reverses approval for Seplat to buy ExxonMobil assets

President Muhammadu Buhari has made a u-turn on his initial position on the sale of ExxonMobil assets.

Buhari had earlier given his approval for Seplat to buy ExxonMobil assets in a purchase $1.28bn deal.

Revealing the latest development, Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said that President’s reversal of his earlier approval was in line with the position of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.

According to him, the confusion over ExxonMobil assets was because “the various agencies involved in the decision had not coordinated well among themselves and having looked at all of the facts with all of the ramifications, the president decided the position of the regulator is to be supported.”

NUPRC had, in a statement over Buhari’s earlier approval of the assets’ acquisition, said, as the sole regulator, it was the one that could deal with such matter. It therefore said status quo remained.

The statement from the Chief Executive of the NUPRC Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, said the Commission, in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, is the sole regulator in dealing with such matters in the Nigerian upstream sector.

NUPRC said: “As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the Commission had earlier communicated the decline of ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such the Commission further affirms that the status quo remains.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector.”

Seplat Energy Plc had, last February, announced an agreement to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Delaware for $1.28bn.

The transaction entails the acquisition of ExxonMobil Nigeria’s entire offshore shallow water, an established, high-quality operation with a highly skilled local operating team and a track record of safe operations.

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