Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, with one of the major subjects of discussion being the Malabu OPL 245 scandal.
Tuesday’s meeting comes about five days after Mr. Kachikwu told journalists that ongoing investigation and prosecution of two multinational oil firms, Shell and ENI, in Nigeria and Italy, for their alleged roles in the Malabu scandal, will not lead to a stoppage of work on the controversial oil block, OPL 245.
The Tuesday meeting at the Aso Villa, Abuja, was also attended by ENI officials represented by officials of its Nigerian subsidiary, NAOC; as well as officials of the Nigerian state oil firm, NNPC.
Mr. Kachikwu confirmed to journalists after Tuesday’s meeting that Zabazaba field, part of the OPL 245, was a major topic of discussion during the meeting.
“The Acting President chaired two meetings this morning. The first was with the ministry of Petroleum, NNPC and Agip Oil Company.
“In the first meeting, we dealt largely with issues relating to Agip’s investment on Zabazaba Field,” Mr. Kachikwu said, adding that the discussion also centred on “their cooperation with us in terms of repairs of the Port Harcourt refinery where they are working with Oando and a few other people.”
Mr. Kachikwu’s stance on the OPL 245 scandal, which saw ENI and Shell pay $1.1 billion through the Nigerian government to private accounts of a convicted money launderer, is at variance with that of the anti-graft EFCC which wants the block returned to the Nigerian government since it was ‘fraudulently’ obtained.