Statoil in punch up over Nigerian oil

Feb. 26, 2010 at 10:09 AM
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ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy giant Statoil said it was disputing claims by a Nigerian businessman that he is owed portions of the company's national revenue.

A court in Nigeria ordered Statoil to put its oil revenue in an escrow account because of the dispute. John Abede, a brother-in-law of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, told the Financial Times that Statoil owes him a share of profits from its oil activity in the country.

"I served as facilitator to get BP and Statoil a foothold in the Nigerian oil industry and brokered the deal to secure their oil blocks," he said.

Obasanjo, a retired military general, served as president from 1999 to 2007.

Statoil assets come from its 18.8 percent stake in the Agbami field, the largest deepwater project in Nigeria.

The company said it was examining the court decision to consider its next steps, the Financial Times said. A spokesman for the Norwegian company said there was "no written or oral agreement" with Abede, describing his claim as "unfounded and without merit."

The court made its decision Wednesday without notifying Statoil. A formal hearing is set for March 10.

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