Oando in Fresh Trouble

**Over Supply of Iranian Oil

By Dipo Olowookere

The controversies trailing one of the leading energy firms in Nigeria, Oando Plc, may not be far from over, going by the latest information involving the organisation.

The company, which is yet to settle its case of alleged infractions levelled against it by the apex regulatory agency in the nation’s capital market, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is having another matter it has to settle with an Italian multinational oil and gas company, Eni.

Eni, in a complaint filed recently, fingered the Dubai-based trading arm of Oando Plc in an alleged fraud involving the supply of oil from a country restricted from selling the product.

In a report by Reuters, Eni accused its former head of oil trading, Mr Alessandro Des Dorides, of delivering a shipment containing Iranian crude, allegedly sourced from the Oando subsidiary.

The Italian energy company said it was not informed that the consignment had oil from Iran, which is targeted by U.S. sanctions. Handling Iranian oil would have breached sanctions the United States reimposed or extended last year after quitting a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Eni said when it became suspicious of what was delivered, it rejected the one million barrel cargo onboard a White Moon shipment. The company said suspended Mr Des Dorides at the end of May for an unrelated petrochemical deal with a small Italian oil trading firm, Napag, in 2018.

In the filing to the Milan prosecutor’s office, Eni said Mr Des Dorides mislead all parties to the deal, hiding the role of Napag, which Eni had suspended dealings with in February over a separate investigation by Milan prosecutors into suspected obstruction of justice by members of Eni’s former legal team.

It was said that after the rejection of the delivery in June, the head of the Italian Senate Industry Committee wrote to Eni Chief Executive, Mr Claudio Descalzi, seeking clarification on the origin of an oil cargo labeled as coming from Iraq.

In its explanation, Eni said it bought the crude from Oando, who in turn bought the oil from the London branch of Italy’s Napag.

Oando said it took back the cargo from Eni but declined to comment further on the origins of the cargo as it was “in the middle of a resolution” over the rejected oil. Oando said the terms of the deal were “normal for the trading industry,” Reuters reports.

Eni said that the mismatch in the crude’s chemical composition “coupled with other red flags led to the decision to terminate the transaction.”

The oil loaded onto the White Moon came via two ship-to-ship transfers that makes the origin harder to track, according to sources with direct knowledge of the deal.

The crude bought from Oando was loaded onto the White Moon from another vessel, the New Prosperity, but that vessel itself had been loaded with oil from a third tanker, the Abyss, the sources added.

The Abyss makes regular voyages through the Mideast Gulf with its transponder switched off for days at a time, according to Refinitiv Eikon ship tracking. The transponder was switched off between April 24 and May 3 when it transferred oil to the New Prosperity. For safety reasons, it is unusual for ships to turn off their tracking systems.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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