Growing weary of slow progress in approving its acquisition of an additional stake in Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 310, Lekoil has applied to the federal high court in Nigeria to speed things along.
The company, on March 27, said it had still not received approval for the transfer of the 22.86% stake in the block, which it agreed to buy in December 2015. The application to the minister was made in January 2016. Lekoil said its efforts were intended to preserve the unexpired duration on the licence. It will be represented at the court by Fidelis Oditah.
According to Lekoil’s admission document to London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in 2013, OPL 310 expires in February 2019.
Lekoil struck the deal with the administrators of Afren, which was put into administration in late July 2015. Lekoil had reached an earlier agreement with Afren, in February 2013, for a 17.14% participating stake and a 30% economic interest. This deal also required ministerial consent, which was given in June 2017 – more than four years after it was agreed.
This subsequent deal would give Lekoil a 40% participating interest, and a 70% economic interest, in OPL 310. The operator, and local partner, is Optimum Petroleum Development, which has the remaining 60% participating interest.
Lekoil said the Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum Resources had said it would carry out due diligence in March 2016. This did not take place, the company said, and has not been rescheduled.
There has been a suggestion that the Nigerian ministry may be waiting for approval from Optimum. Lekoil took the position, though, that its deal with Afren’s administrators was not required under the joint operating agreement (JOA).