A firm, Hydrodive Nigeria Limited, has dragged Addax Petroleum Exploration Nigeria Limited before a Federal High Court in Lagos over award of oil well contract to foreigners in contravention of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act.
The contract, which is the OML 126 Okwori well swaps projects named Ok-32, OK-33 and OK-34, was said to have been awarded to Ranger Offshore Incorporated, a diving company registered under the laws of United States of America.
The plaintiff (Hydrodive) is said to be a Nigerian firm involved in broad range of marine vessels, air mixed gas and saturation diving services primarily to the offshore and inshore petroleum industry of the West African region.
According to the matter filed by Olumayowa Owolabi of Pistis Partners LP on behalf of the plaintiff, it was alleged that the said Ranger Offshore hurriedly incorporated a company in Nigeria named Rangers Subsea Nigeria Limited, to serve as the vehicle for the execution of the contract.
The companies (Ranger Offshore and Rangers Subsea) were named as third and fourth defendants to the suit, while Addax Petroleum, Kaztec Engineering Limited and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board were named as first, second and fifth defendants.
The plaintiff is seeking an order declaring the purported award of the contract to the foreign firm as illegal, null and void on account of the fact that it was done in violation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act and the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act of 2003.
The plaintiff also wants the court to restrain Ranger Offshore and Rangers Subsea, whether by themselves, directors, officers, representatives, associates, affiliates, agents, subsidiary, companies, alliance partners or entities controlled by them from executing the said oil well contract.
The plaintiff is also asking the court to direct the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board to cancel the contract, and another order directing the defendants to pay the cost of the suit.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang has set the matter for hearing on September 10, 2014 on the preliminary objection filed by the defendants challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
The defendants, in their objections, are insisting that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to file the case and that there was no cause of action to sustain the suit.
Justice Abang had earlier warned the defendants not to go ahead with the contract until the matter is determined as a mark of respect for the decision of the court.