The lingering litigation over a $3.8 billion Egina oil platform project between the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) and Samsung/Total took a fresh twist yesterday following allegations by the plaintiff that the first defendant, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), had breached an earlier ruling by Justice Chukwu Jeku Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, that parties maintain status quo pending the determination of the suite.
Counsel to LADOL, Professor Fidelis Odita (QC, SAN), had told the court that despite the court order of January 24, 2014, Samsung, had on February 27th and 28th 2014, made presentations to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), of its plans to replace LADOL with another company as its third party local content partner for the project.
The contract awarded to Samsung Heavy Industry and LADOL by Total for the integration of a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) platform otherwise known as Egina project to be cited at LADOL base in Lagos, assumed litigation following alleged schemes by Samsung to exclude the indigenous firm from the juicy job.
The development is coming even as the fourth defendant in the Suite, the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Recourses, again failed to make representation at the court’s proceedings. Others joined in the suite are, Total Upstream Nigeria Limited (Total), and the Nigerian Content Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Justice Aneke who frowned at the alleged breach of his order for parties to maintain the status quo, was apparently not taken- in by the defense counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), in his claim of ignorance of his client’s presentation to NNPC.
“If this allegation is found to be true, it is a very serious issue”, the Judge declared.
The Judge however adjourned hearing to April 16, 2014, following the ‘conditional appearance’ (appearance for the first time) of the Counsel to the third defendant, NCDMB, Chidi Ilogu (SAN), who pleaded for time to enable him prepare as well as file certain applications he intends to bring before the court.
Speaking with journalists after the hearing, Counsel to LADOL, Professor Fidelis Odita, said the case at hand was an attempt for the first time, to test the efficacy of the Nigerian Local Content Act 2010, as it relates to its enforcement in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.
“The contention of my client LADOL is that having been used by Samsung as the local content vehicle to win this major contract of $3.8 billion it is not open to Samsung to say that our client is no longer the local content partner.
“What is even more perplexing in a case like this is that the contract allocated the sum of $214 million dollars for the construction of facilities at LADOL. This $214 million is part of what Samsung is trying to put in the pocket and sabotage the Nigerian economy by doing so, we say that the court should not allow them to do so,” he said.