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REUTERS: Exxon, Shell cannot revive $1.8 billion Nigerian arbitration award – U.S. judge

Exxon, Shell cannot revive $1.8 billion Nigerian arbitration award – U.S. judge

5 Sept 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

NEWYORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Wednesday rejected Exxon Mobil Corp’s <XOM.N> and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s <RDSa.L> effort to revive a $1.8 billion arbitration award against Nigeria’s state-run oil company, which stemmed from a dispute over a 1993 contract to extract oil near the African country’s coastline.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan cited public policy and due process considerations in deciding not to enforce the October 2011 award against Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC), which was subsequently set aside by courts in Nigeria.

“While this court may have inherent authority to fashion appropriate relief in certain circumstances, exercising that authority to create a $1.8 billion (1.5 billion pounds) judgment is a bridge too far,” Pauley wrote in a 50-page decision.

The companies said last November that the award had grown to $2.67 billion, including interest.

Exxon, Shell and their respective lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

NNPC is very pleased with the decision, and was always confident that there was no basis for a U.S. court to confirm the award,” its lawyer Cecilia Moss said in an interview.

According to court papers, the 1993 contract anticipated that Exxon and Shell affiliates would invest billions of dollars to extract oil from the Erha field, about 60 miles (97 km) off Nigeria’s coast, and share profits with NNPC.

But the affiliates, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co Ltd, accused NNPC of unilaterally “lifting” more oil than was contractually allowed, at the behest of Nigeria’s government, depriving them of billions of dollars of oil.

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