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A grand jury has indicted Sable Mining chief executive Andrew Groves and seven other people following a damning report from Global Witness outlining the business model followed by Groves and his business partner, former England cricketer Phil Edmonds.President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered an inquiry in May into Sable’s unsuccessful attempt to acquire an iron ore concession in northern Liberia after the report accused the company of bribing public officials.

Liberia
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The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has begun investigations into Rolls-Royce’s operations in Nigeria, following accusations that the London Stock Exchange-listed engineering group filtered payments through intermediaries such as Unaoil to win deals in Indonesia, China, India and Brazil. As with previous investigations, the deals under scrutiny were transacted by Rolls-Royce’s previous management, headed by Sir John Rose. The Times newspaper reported on 20 May that the Nigerian deals involved Rolls-Royce’s alleged use of an intermediary company, PSL Engineering and Control, to influence the sale of gas turbines.

Nigeria
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A group of bureaucrats and politicians in the planning, works, energy and finance ministries stand accused of manipulating the state’s policy and procurement procedures since 2012 to steer control of the energy sector into the arms of Xaris Energy, a company closely linked to the ruling Swapo party. Xaris is partly owned by Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba, who holds a direct interest via his AMA Family Trust, according to an investigation into the N$7.4bn ($554m) expansion of Walvis Bay harbour.

Namibia
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The governments of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to renegotiate the terms under which Juba exports its oil, according to officials from the two countries. Transit fees of almost $25/bbl, combined with the drop in the global oil price and the discount at which Dar Blend crude trades, meant that South Sudan faced selling its oil at a loss. Output dropped sharply, heralding a possible shutdown and requiring an urgent renegotiation of transit terms.

South Sudan
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The Milan Public Prosecutor’s office has placed Royal Dutch Shell under formal investigation for international corruption offences relating to its purchase of OPL 245 in Nigeria. Shell’s headquarters in The Hague were searched on 17 February by Italian and Dutch financial police. The investigation relates to the sale in 2011 to Shell and Eni of the block, which contains the Etan and Zabazaba fields. The companies paid $1.1bn, plus a signature bonus of $200m, to the Nigerian government, which in a back-to-back deal negotiated by the attorney general then transferred $1.1bn to Malabu Oil & Gas, a company owned by former oil minister Dan Etete, to which he had granted rights to the acreage in 1998.

Nigeria
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Angola’s government is running short of money just as the issue of who might succeed President José Eduardo dos Santos again comes under discussion. The president raised eyebrows in early July when he said he intended to see out his term of office, and there has been increased repression of government opponents. At the same time, a leaked memo from Sonangol chairman Francisco de Lemos José Maria has sharply criticised the legacy of his predecessor Manuel Vicente, now Angolan vice-president, and spelled out the problems facing the company.

Angola
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The Somali government has turned to the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to resolve its maritime border dispute with Kenya. In its application, posted on the ICJ’s website on 28 August, Somali minister of foreign affairs and investment promotion Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh asked the court to determine the course of the maritime boundary, saying “diplomatic negotiations, in which… respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement”. In its application, Somalia asks the court “to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles]”.

Kenya | Somalia
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Algeria can be a difficult jurisdiction, but Sonatrach’s termination of the Isarène E&P contract may not just be driven by aggressive resource nationalism, writes John Hamilton.

Algeria
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A court in Milan on 17 March acquitted Eni and Royal Dutch Shell of corruption in the purchase of OPL 245. Campaigners said they were surprised and disappointed by the verdict, especially as two middlemen involved in the sale were found guilty in September 2018. The written ruling explaining the judge’s reasoning should be handed down 90 days after the verdict.

Nigeria
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London’s High Court ruled that JP Morgan did not breach fiduciary rules when it transferred funds stemming from the sale of the controversial oil production licence (OPL) 245. The judgement reveals further details of graft in the long-running saga, as Justice Cockerill found that the original award of the licence was probably corrupt and ex-oil minister Dan Etete had benefitted financially from it. Meanwhile, 25 years after it was first awarded, other disputes continue over the highly prospective OPL 245.

Nigeria
Issue 341 - 02 March 2017

Soma director named Somali PM

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Soma Oil & Gas executive director for Africa Hassan Khaire has been named as prime minister in the government of new Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Soma said Khaire had resigned from the board and relinquished all his shares in the company. Khaire, 46, had worked with Soma since the company was founded in 2013, and before that as director for the Norwegian Refugee Council for Somalia and East Africa, having come to Norway in the late 1980s as a refugee.

Somalia
Issue 341 - 02 March 2017

Erin Energy: Chief executive resigns

Free

Erin Energy Corporation has announced the resignation of chief executive Segum Omidele after less than a year in the post. The company, formerly Camac Energy, gave no explanation for the move. Senior vice-president, general counsel and secretary Jean-Michel Malek will serve as interim chief executive with effect from 22 February, while the board seeks a permanent replacement. Omidele served in various positions with the company from September 2011 and was chief operating officer from September 2015 until his appointment as chief executive in May 2016.

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Pancontinental Oil & Gas has agreed to pay a disputed cash call to Tullow Oil to avoid a default, but continues to contest the payment. The company said in December that it had received a cash call for $552,897 for administration and other “non-exploration” costs in Walvis Basin PEL 37 for 2014 to 2016 (AE 337/15). Pancontinental said it believed the sums were covered under the free carry agreed when Tullow farmed into the licence, but the joint operating agreement stipulated payment to avoid a possible default situation, and then resolution of any disputes later.

Namibia
Issue 332 - 18 October 2016

Chad: Doba consortium fined $76bn

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A court in N’djamena has fined the ExxonMobil-led consortium producing oil from the Doba Basin $76bn in a dispute about royalties. Exxon said it disagreed with the court’s ruling and was “evaluating next steps”. It said the dispute was over “commitments made by the government to the consortium, not the government’s ability to impose taxes”. The court awarded the finance ministry CFA483.6bn in damages, plus a penalty of CFA44,294bn. The consortium has lodged an appeal in N’djamena as well as a case at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris.

Chad
Issue 339 - 02 February 2017

Nigeria: UK court rules on Shell case

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The High Court in London ruled on 26 January that two legal claims on behalf of over 40,000 Nigerians against Royal Dutch Shell and its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) for environmental damage caused by oil pollution in the Niger Delta could not be heard in the UK. Lawyers for the communities said they would appeal against the judgement. Mr Justice Fraser, sitting in the Technology & Construction Court, held that the claim against Royal Dutch Shell had no prospect of success and therefore that the claim against SPDC could not proceed.

Nigeria