The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ruled in favour of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC) of Nigeria by ordering the Minister of Petroleum Resources to grant the renewal of the Oil Mineral Lease 11 to Shell for 20 years.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in his judgment delivered on Shell’s suit, ruled that renewal would be for 20 years and not 30, as requested by the company.
The suit by Shell was instituted against the Minister of Petroleum Resources (President Muhammadu Buhari) and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
President Buhari had earlier in March ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to take over the operatorship of the entire Oil Mining Lease 11 from SPDC.
Federal Government had argued in court that its decision not to renew the operating license of Shell was in the interest of the nation’s security.
FG’s counsel, Mohammed Diri, had said that the refusal to renew OML 11 was a pre-emptive measure to prevent the occurrence or escalation of security breach in Ogoni area.
OML 11 lies in the southeastern Niger Delta and contains 33 oil and gas fields of which eight are producing as per 2017. In terms of production, it is one of the most important blocks in Nigeria.
The terrain is swampy to the south with numerous rivers and creeks. Port Harcourt is located in the northwest of the block, while the major yard and logistics base at Onne is located by the Bonny River. The Bonny oil terminal – the largest in Nigeria – and Nigeria LNG (NLNG) are both located at Bonny.