By Adedapo Adesanya
The number of Nigeria’s marginal oilfields up for auctioning could rise to 67 with the rejection of an application to stop the federal government from auctioning 10 marginal oil fields whose licenses have been revoked by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke dismissed an application for interlocutory injunction filed by the operators of affected marginal oil fields which intended to restrain the federal government from auctioning them as part of its licensing round.
The affected operators are Associated Oil & Gas Limited, Dansaki Petroleum Limited; Bayelsa Oil Limited; Bicta Energy and Management Systems Limited: Del-Sigma Petroleum Nigeria Limited; Sogenal Energy Limited; Independent Energy Limited; Sahara Energy; African Oil & Gas Limited and Goland Petroleum Limited.
The defendants in the suit are the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Auwalu Sarki,
Delivering its ruling on the application, the court held that the operators of the affected marginal oil fields failed to convince the court on why the order ought to be granted.
In dismissing the application, the judge held that “the court having considered the papers filed and exchanged by the parties, refuse to grant the application on the ground that it lacked merit, I hereby do the same.”
This means that over 600 companies would have more to jostle for as the litigation process had restricted them from putting the embattled oilfields up for auction.
This is, however, subject to October 29 which has been scheduled for hearing of the substantive suit.
In May, the same presiding judge refused to grant an ex parte application seeking to restrain the defendants from withdrawing licenses of the operators instead, and directed the applicants to put the defendants on notice.
However, rather than complying with the court’s order, the applicants allegedly decided to serve the processes through email without recourse to the court’s order.
On June 3, when the application for an interlocutory injunction came up for hearing, the defendants were absent thereby forcing the court to grant the application as prayed.
Upon becoming aware of this development, the defendants through their legal team approached the court for a reversal of the order of injunction, on the ground of non- service of court’s processes.
Based on the defendants’ argument, the court set aside its earlier orders made on June 3 which restrained the defendants and consequently directed that the application for interlocutory injunction be heard afresh after service of relevant court processes on the defendants.
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