Brittania-U Versus Chevron

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Clay Neff

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Supreme Court stops Chevron from selling multi-billion disputed oil blocks to Seplat

THE Supreme Court waded into the tussle between Chevron and Brittania-U Limited, stopping the former from selling some disputed oil blocks to an oil firm, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited, following a pending appeal challenging the planned transactions. The appeal before the apex court was filed by Brittania-U Limited seeking to halt any planned sale of the oil blocks – Oil Mining Lease 52, OML 53 and OML 55 which it said rightly belonged to it. The appeal arose from the ruling of the Court of Appeal, setting aside an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining Chevron and Seplat from concluding any deal on the oil leases.

On Monday, May 18, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Tanko Muhammad, ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the appellant’s appeal. “Parties in the matter are ordered to maintain status quo. No party is allowed to take any step that will affect the res (subject matter) of the appeal,” Justice Muhammad ruled.

Rickey Tarfa (SAN), appellant’s lawyer, had earlier reminded the court that at the last sitting on March 24, 2015, the appellant’s application for mandatory injunction was adjourned till Monday for hearing.

But the counsel for Seplat, Damian Dodo (SAN), contended that instead of dissipating energy on the interlocutory application, the apex court should entertain the main appeal.

Uche Nwoye (SAN), counsel for Chevron Nigeria and BNP Paribas Securities Corp, and that of Chevron USA Inc., Hermant Patel (also a respondent in the suit) and A. V. Etuwewe, all agreed with Dodo’s submission.

But in his response, Tarfa explained that it was necessary to hear his application for mandatory injunction, as there might be nothing to benefit from the appeal if an injunction to protect the subject matter of the suit was not issued.

Following Tarfa’s submission, the Presiding Justice, Justice Muhammad, asked the respondents’ counsel if he was ready to give undertaking on behalf of their clients not to take any action against the subject matter.

In its unanimous decision, the apex court then ordered parties to maintain status quo, pending the outcome of the appeal which it adjourned for hearing till October 6.

— May 19, 2015 @ 12:20 GMT

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