$60m Oil Well Dispute: Halkin Ignores Senate Summon

The dispute between Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited and Halkin Exploration and Production Ltd over Atala Marginal Oil Field (OML 46),  took another dimension Tuesday with the latter failing to appear at the Senate for further mediation on the matter but rather slamming the upper legislative chamber with a N10billion law suit.

This is as the Senate through its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, threatened  to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the Managing Director of Halkin to appear before it on a petition against it by Hardy Oil Nigeria Ltd.

Hardy Oil had in a petition filed against Halkin to the Senate, alleged  that Atala Marginal Field (OML 46) hitherto owned by it, was fraudulently sold to Halkin by the now scrapped Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The Senate had on the strength of the petition, mandated its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, to investigate the allegation.

The two oil firms at the beginning of the investigative hearing by the Committee in October appeared through their representatives, but Halkin in a surprise move, slammed the committee with N10billion suit seeking a discontinuation of the session.

Informing the Committee of Halkin's litigation during Tuesday's session , the Chairman of the Senate Committee on ethics, priviledges and public petition, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), said a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), M.A Mahmud, had written the Committee that his client, Halkin Exploration and Production Ltd, had gone to court over the oil well dispute.

"The SAN in the letter, informed us that the Senate had been sued to the sum of N10billion and that all issues relating to the oil well, are to be handled by the court of law.

"This to us is unacceptable because none of the disputing  parties was in court before the petition was received by us upon which investigation commenced with attendance of the two parties.

"More disturbing is the fact that before the litigation, Halkin in a letter dated 12th October, 2021 and signed by its MD Mr Odogu, promised to appear before the Committee today with relevant documentation on acquisition of the oil well from DPR now Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC).

"Mr Odogu must appear at our next sitting failure of which a warrant of arrest would be issued on him because no body can stop the Senate from carrying out investigation brought before it as empowered by section 88 of the 1999  Constitution.

"The Clerk of this committee will write the Halkin's MD for a rescheduled appearance which must be honoured", he said.

Angered by Halkin's latest move, members of the committee such as Senators James Manager, Uche Ekwunife, Smart Adeyemi, Sam Egwu etc, vowed to ensure continuation of the investigation at the next sitting.

Senator Adeyemi in particular, said even if Halkin failed to appear at the next sitting, submissions should be taken from Representatives of NURC and Hardy Oil for a decisive resolution by the Committee.

Worried by the antics of Halkin Exploration and Production Ltd on the disputed oil well, the Attorney to  Hardy Oil Nigeria Ltd, Barrister Ike Onwu Chiluba, urged the committee to use all the legislative powers within its disposal to prevent the  investigation  from being stalled.



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