Shell reviews deals involving ex-executive accused of bribery

The logo of a Shell gas station is pictured in Ulm, Germany. The firm has concluded that a Nigerian oilfield sale where it suspects an executive took bribes was not linked to a separate court case. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 06 December 2018
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Shell reviews deals involving ex-executive accused of bribery

  • Shell says ex-executive took bribes in oilfield sale, but former executive denies any wrongdoing
  • Shell sees no link to Nigeria oilfield graft case in Italy

LONDON: Royal Dutch Shell has concluded that a Nigerian oilfield sale where it suspects an executive took bribes was not linked to a separate court case in which he and Shell face corruption charges over a $1.1 billion offshore acquisition.
The Anglo-Dutch company filed a criminal complaint in March against Peter Robinson, a former vice president for sub-Saharan Africa, saying he took bribes in the $390 million sale of onshore Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42 to a Nigerian firm.
Robinson is also one of several former Shell employees involved in a trial in Milan, in which Shell and Italy’s Eni are accused of corruption related to the $1.1 billion purchase of a giant Nigerian offshore field, Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245.
Both the OML 42 and OPL 245 deals were signed in 2011.
Shell, the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, said in a statement to Reuters that it had completed an internal review of the OML 42 sale process and other deals Robinson was involved in, and it concluded his only violation was related to OML 42.
Shell, Eni and Robinson deny any wrongdoing in the OPL 245 case. Robinson also denies any wrongdoing in the OML 42 sale.
Regarding the OML 42 sale, Shell said: “We have found no evidence to suggest that this was anything other than an isolated breach by a former employee, operating deliberately outside of Shell systems or controls.”
“We have also found no evidence of a connection between Robinson’s actions on OML 42 and OPL 245, and we have reconfirmed this to the Dutch Public Prosecutor,” Shell said.
Shell filed its complaint against Robinson to the Dutch prosecutor.
The Dutch prosecutor’s officer confirmed on Thursday it had received further information from Shell but offered no additional comment, saying it was still evaluating all the information and determining next steps.
Robinson’s lawyer Chiara Padovani said her client “denies any allegations of criminal misconduct in connection with OML 42.” She also said Robinson “agrees with Shell’s conclusion that the sale of OML 42 is unrelated to OPL 245.”
A source told Reuters in March that documents related to the OML 42 case had been uncovered after investigators looking into OPL 245 raided a house in Perth, Australia owned by Robinson.
Milan prosecutors allege bribes totalling about $1.1 billion were paid, including to middlemen, to win the OPL 245 deal for Shell and Eni.
Shell has said it expects the case in Italy to last many months.


Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

Updated 55 min 20 sec ago
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Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

  • Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons
  • Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years

LONDON: Australia has become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, overtaking Qatar for the first time, according to data published on Monday.

Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons, according to Refinitiv Eikon, the financial data arm of Thomson Reuters.

While LNG exports from Australia increased by more than 15 percent from the previous month, Qatar’s exports dropped by 3 percent.

Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years. Just last month, the first LNG shipment left the country’s new offshore Ichthys project on the northwestern coast of Australia.

Analysts expect Australia will look to maintain its lead ahead of the Qataris.

“Competition between Qatar and Australia for the share of global LNG market is set to intensify further,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s global gas analytics in London.

“Australia has boosted its market share in recent years by bringing online a slew of LNG export projects. This is in stark contrast with the situation in Qatar where the export capacity has remained around 77 million tons per annum,” he said.

Ehsan Khoman, head of regional research and strategy at MUFG, in Dubai, said Australia has an advantage over Qatar due to it being geographically closer to major gas importers.

“The lower transportation freight costs will remain the backbone of Australia comparative advantage as an exporter vis-à-vis Qatar, given the country’s closer proximity to the largest LNG importers in Asia, namely, Japan, China and South Korea,” he said.

Rising LNG exports from US will add to the global market competition, he said.

“Going forward, the LG space is likely to undergo a major transformation driven by new supplies coming from the US, with our expectation of a three-way tug of war between the US, Australia and Qatar to intensify in the medium term for global leadership among LNG exporters, notably for a larger share of the key market in Asia.”

The data follows Qatar’s announcement last week that it would leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in early 2019 to focus on gas production.

Kumar said he expects Qatar to ramp up efforts to maintain its market position as competition grows from other exporters.

“Qatar has plans to vigorously defend its market share in the coming years as it is moving ahead with expanding the capacity of its Ras Laffan plant to around 110 million tons per annum by the end of 2025 or early 2026,” he said.