Speaking to Reuters on Monday, an Eni spokesperson stated,“Eni has agreed with the Federal Government of Nigeria to mutually and temporarily suspend the arbitration proceedings in order to discuss with the government the necessary steps for achieving the conversion of the licence from prospecting into mining (extraction).”
Nigeria recently initiated the withdrawal of civil claims totaling $1.1bn against Eni related to allegations of corruption in the OPL 245 deal. Following the commencement of the proceedings, Eni requested to halt the arbitration on Nov. 16. Sources revealed that Nigeria is currently seeking better conditions than those previously discussed regarding the block license.
Eni and Shell were granted rights for an offshore field, OPL 245, in 2011, but the area has not been exploited due to multiple disputes that are now being resolved.
In 2022, a Milan appeals court upheld the acquittal of Eni, its chief executive, and Shell over a corruption case involving the acquisition of OPL 245. The first indications of Eni and the Nigerian government moving towards resolving their remaining disputes surfaced on Oct. 15, during a preliminary hearing in a Milan court on an alleged fraud over a failed 2019 Eni tanker deal. Eni subsequently withdrew its complaint for fraud against the Nigerian company Oando and its former head, Boyo Omamofe.
At an earlier hearing in November, an Italian judge decided to dismiss proceedings for all defendants, stating that the alleged crimes were potentially committed abroad and thus did not fall within his jurisdiction. On Sept. 4, Eni agreed to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary to Oando, pending local and regulatory authorization.