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Equinor says it wins Nigerian case over Agbami oilfield funds

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LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of Norwegian oil company Equinor in a long-running case over profit from its stake in the Agbami oilfield, a company spokesman said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Equinor’s flag in Stavanger, Norway December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins//File Photo

The ruling ends legal proceedings, spokesman Erik Haaland said. It alleviates more than 10 years of legal uncertainty for Equinor and gives it more flexibility in how it handles the millions of dollars a day generated by its share in the field.

The court ruled that the lower courts did not have jurisdiction.

“We are pleased with this decision, which is in line with our position as well,” Haaland said.

Court cases in Nigeria can take decades to work through the system, delays that can snarl cash flow and hinder company investment.

Former consultant John Abebe was seeking 1.5% of the profit from Equinor’s 20.21% stake in Agbami, which pumps close to 200,000 barrel per day. At current prices, the stake is worth roughly $2 million per day.

Abebe said he was not paid for helping the company secure licences for Nigerian oilfields. A court in 2010 ordered Equinor to place revenue from the field, millions of dollars a day, into a specific account in Nigeria. Equinor had lost earlier appeals of the ruling.

Reuters could not immediately reach Abebe for comment. No-one at the court was immediately available to comment.

Abebe helped Statoil, as Equinor was formerly known, to secure licences for Nigerian oilfields between 1991 and 1999 and was on the board of Statoil’s local unit. Equinor had said it already paid him for his services and that it had no agreement to give him 1.5% of its profit.

Haaland said the company was working with its lawyers to determine next steps for Agbami and its proceeds.

Reporting by Libby George in Lagos and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London. Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; editing by John Stonestreet and David Evans

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