A Federal High Court in Lagos was On Monday forced to adjourn continuation of hearing until November 15 in a suit filed by the federal government against Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited over alleged crude oil shipment worth $406.8 million.
The suit, filed by the federal government counsel, Fabian Ajogwu, has Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and its subsidiary – Shell Western Supply and Trading Limited as defendants.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that continuation of the trial was stalled yesterday following the absence of the judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, who was said to be attending a conference in Abuja.
Similarly, a case before the same court involving the federal government and Agip, a subsidiary of oil giant Eni, which was also scheduled for yesterday, was also fixed for November 15 for hearing.
The plaintiff is claiming the sum of $406.8 million from the defendants, representing the shortfall of money paid into the federal government account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The money is for the crude oil lifted in 2013 and 2014.
In a supporting affidavit, the federal government had accused the Anglo-Dutch company of not declaring or under declaring crude oil shipments during the period.
It said it was discovered following a forensic analysis of bills of laden and shipping documents, adding that Shell cheated Nigeria of the revenue.
According to the affidavit, the consortium of experts tracked the global movements of the country’s hydro-carbons, including crude oil and gas.
It identified the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas export sales to different parts of the world.
It also revealed discrepancies in the export records from Nigeria with the import records at United States ports.
The plaintiff averred that the undeclared shipments between January 2013 and December 2014 brought the total value of the entire shortfall to $406.75 million.
The defendants were said to have failed to respond to a federal government letter through its legal representative, seeking clarification on the discrepancies.
The federal government is, therefore, seeking a court order to compel the two companies to pay $406.8 million being the total value of the missing revenue and interest payment at 21 per cent per annum.
In addition, the government is also asking Shell to pay general exemplary damages in the sum of $406.75 million as well as the cost of the legal action instituted against it.
The federal government had also sued Chevron, Total and Agip in a similar case before the court.
It is asking for a total of $12.7 billion over alleged non-declaration of 57 million barrels of crude shipped to the US between 2011 and 2014.
The oil companies are among 15 oil majors targeted by the government for the recovery of $17 billion in deprived revenue.