It is amazing how the tussle for the re-instatement of OML 110 has taken a dramatic turn by the powers that be since the license was revoked by the Federal Government due to outstanding legacy debts and royalties. It is of significant interest to note that OML 110, a very lucrative oil block situated offshore Ondo State, South West Nigeria is a block previously owned by Cavendish Petroleum Limited before its revocation alongside four (4) other blocks in 2019.
Cavendish Petroleum Limited, a wholly owned indigenous company was first awarded the block in 1996. The company had gone ahead to drill a total of seven (7) exploratory wells with two of the wells fully operational. Cavendish successfully carried out a complete revamp of the two existing wells in preparation to the commencementof production in 2019 before the Government revoked its license.
The revocation order by the Federal Government stem from the outstanding debts on the block. From information available to us, Cavendish had since gone ahead to secure the funding required to pay off the outstanding debts with the aim of getting the license re-instated and ultimately commence production. Unfortunately, this position has not been made possible solely by Mr. Timipre Sylva and the powers that be.
From our findings, Cavendish Petroleum Limited, upon securing the funding, approached the Department of Petroleum Resources for approval to proceed with the payment of all outstanding debts on the block. After a careful review of its application, the Department for Petroleum Resources recommended to the Honorable Minister for State, Mr. Timipre Sylva to look into Cavendish’s submissions and possibly approach the Presidency for approval.
According to our sources, the Honorable Minister, in his capacity as Minister for State on Petroleum Resources got a recommendation from DPR and through a letter referenced HMS/MPR/001/Vol. 1/042 and dated July 8, 2020wrote to Mr. President seeking approval for Cavendish to pay up its debts and subsequently have the block re-instated. This was seen as an honorable thing to do especially when considering the enormous resources Cavendish have deployed on the matter and the fact that Cavendish is 100% Nigerian owned company.
Wereliably gathered that upon reviewing the Honorable Minister’s request, The President in his wisdom and transparency granted the Minister’s request vide a letter referenced SH/COS/24/4/9514 and dated November 13, 2020 and duly signed by the Chief of Staff to Mr. President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, approving the payment of outstanding royalty of US$2,581,577.82 and lease renewal fee of US$2,000,000.00 within 90 days effective 9th November, 2020 for the retention of OML 110 by Cavendish Petroleum Limited.
The sad part of thiscorruptpractice being perpetrated by Mr. Timipre Sylva is his deliberate refusal to communicate Mr. President’s approval to Cavendish till date, allowing the 90-day period granted to Cavendish by Mr. President to expire thereby creating an impression that Cavendish Petroleum was unable to come up with the funding. All these was fabricated to give Mr. President the impression that Cavendish do NOT have the funds as proclaimed. It is also sad to note that Cavendish Petroleum had earlier submitted a proof of funds of N3billion naira in its covers earmarked for this payment. That same Proof of Funds and the funds itself is still very valid as we speak.
What beats our imagination is the amount of work already put into this project by Cavendish Petroleum in securing the approval from Mr. Presidentonly for the Minister to sit on the letter four (4) months after such an approval was obtained. Mr. President’s overwhelming commitment towards encouraging local content participation in the oil and gas industry has culminated into various Nigerian companies playing significant roles in the industry. Nigerians have continued to show capacity both technically and financially in the oil and gas industry and Cavendish Petroleum is one of such companies fully aligned to Mr. President’s core values in this regard. This level of participation by Nigerians as championed by Mr. President Himself is currently being threatened by people by like Mr. Timipre Sylva. We believe strongly that Mr. President was convinced about the Cavendish submissions thereby appending his signature for the re-instatement of the license to Cavendish Petroleum.
It is appalling and absolutely unheard off in any part of the world today, where a sitting Minister can single handedly overturn and subdue an approval from The President and Commander-In-Chief. The most intriguing aspect of this drama is that the Honorable Minister himself wrote to Mr. President seeking for this approval.
It is no longer news that the monumental corruption being perpetrated by Mr. Timipre Sylva since his emergence as the Minister for State in the Petroleum Industry is mind blowing. Information reaching us has it that Mr. Timipre Sylva has indeed collected money from various sources to subvert Mr. President’s approval with the malicious intent of ‘selling’ off the block to his cronies. This act has continued to derail the good intentions of Mr. President on his administration’s fight against corruption. Elements like Mr. Timipre Sylva should never be allowed anywhere close to public offices for the kind of abuse they subject their offices to. It is sad to note that this whole saga is already in the full glare of the public, that Mr. Timipre Sylva has collected bribes from some state Governors in the South West as well as some individuals to try to re-award the block to certain individuals. We have it on record that Mr. Timipre Sylva has gone ahead to collect US$20million from Isiaka Rabiu and the BUA Group to have the block awarded to them. This formed the reason he (Mr. Timipre Sylva) deliberately delayed Mr. President’s approval to Cavendish Petroleum, waiting for the 90-days period to expire. This is a monumental fraud that calls for immediate investigation.
We empathize with Cavendish as they continue to struggle to reclaim what rightly belongs to them and call on well meaning Nigerians and Mr. President to look into the dubious activities of Mr. Timipre Sylva and his cronies in office.
We will continue to pursue the entrenchment of democratic values in our society and uphold the rule of law. We dare Mr. Timipre Sylva to come out and publicly refute these facts about his activities if he can. We dare him that we indeed have all the correspondence and will make them public if this injustice is not reverted immediately. By 10/03/2021 if the Minister for State Mr. Timipre Sylva does not do the honorable thing by inviting Cavendish Petroleum to proceed with the payment as already approved by Mr. President and get the block re-instated, we would be left with no other choice than to let the cat off the hook by publishing in full, all the correspondence that have ensued first between Cavendish and DPR, DPR and The Ministry of Petroleum Resources and down to the final approval from the Presidency. We have all the audio and video recordings of all the meetings attended, items discussed and decisions arrived at. We also have the audio and video recordings of the secret meetings held between Mr. Timipre Sylva and Alhaji Isiaku Rabiu and we shall be releasing all these details in due time.
Just to let the Minister know that we have copies of the following documents in our possession and we will make them public soon if he does not retract in the evil he is trying to do:
1. Approval request letter to pay outstanding debts on OML 110 from Cavendish Petroleum Limited to The Director, Department of Petroleum Resources dated May 4, 2020
2. Recommendation letter from Department of Petroleum Resources to the Honorable Minister for State, Petroleum Resources dated 21st May 2020 with reference No: PLLM/3900/S.650/Vol.11/258
3. Approval request letter from the Honorable Minister for State, Petroleum Resources to His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR dated 8th July 2020 with reference No: HMS/MPR/001/Vol.1/042
4. Approval letter from His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, signed by the Chief of Staff to Mr. President – Professor Ibrahim Gambari dated 13th November 2020 with Reference No: SH/COS/24/4/9514
We have all these documents and will make them public very soon.
Alhaji Ibrahim Mai Deribe
Cavandish Petroleum Ltd