ConOil, owned by Nigeria’s second richest man is being pursued for a combined debt of over $140.5 million by two foreign and one local companies, PREMIUM TIMES has learned.
Despite making several pledges to pay, ConOil and other companies owned by Mr. Adenuga have reneged on paying the debts, multiple sources in the oil and gas sector have told this newspaper.
Things have got so bad that some of the creditor companies have either commenced or are considering commencing legal actions to force the billionaire businessman to pay up having exhausted all options to make him honour promises and agreement to pay.
In fact, one company has successful secured an interim order from a federal court to place one of Mr Adenuga’s companies under receivership.
The increasing debt profile of the telecom and oil mogul, who increased his net worth by almost $5 billion in the last year, according to luxury lifestyle magazine, Forbes, has hit some his creditors so hard that they had to shut down some of their operations.
One of such companies is Depthwize, a local oil servicing company, which is owed $40 million by ConOil.
The refusal of the management of ConOil to pay Depthwize, a small drilling contractor has forced the company to lay off workers and shut down services on two of ConOil’s rigs until the money is paid, those familiar with the matter said.
“Depthwize says it can no longer afford the day to day running cost of working on the rigs,” one source said.
Similarly, American oil and gas firm, Baker Hughes, was forced to lodge a court petition to wind up one of Mr Adenuga’s company, Belbop Nigeria Limited, over a USD $12.09 million bill they had been unsuccessfully trying to get the company to pay.
Baker Hughes argued that in 2009, Belbop awarded it a contract for the provision of directional drilling, MWD/LWD services and supply of drilling fluids and drilling bits, Logging cabin and surface acquisition system.
The company told the court that after it duly discharge its obligation and rendered all requisite services, Belbop refused to pay. Baker Hughes said it incurred a liability of $9.4 million in the course of executing the contract.
On April 12, 2016, Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Lagos placed an interim injunction on the accounts of Belbop pending the determination of suit.
The judge therefore appointed the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court as the receiver/manager of Belbop until the substantive suit is determined.
Mr Adenuga has also been given multinational oil firm, Total, the runaround over a $28.5 million debt it owed the French oil giant since 2009.
Although Total has been trying to resolve the debt without litigation, the refusal of Mr. Adenuga to pay the debt has forced the company to stop work at OML 136 gas field. Total is ConOil’s technical partner in the project.
At a meeting held with Total in November 2015, it was agreed that ConOil would pay the $28.5 million dollars owed before January 31 2016.
That meeting, which minutes is in the possession of PREMIUM TIMES, was chaired by Mr. Adenuga and attended by four executives from Total.
But those familiar with the matter told this newspaper Mr. Adenuga’s company is yet to pay up. All attempts by Total to make him release the money have also failed, insiders said.
Some said they are baffled by Mr Adenuga’s refusal to pay Total the $28.5 million, which would have seen work commence on the lucrative oil field.
The OML 136 asset is considered to be one of the largest gas fields in Nigeria, with a proven reserve of 11 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas. The exploration of the oil assets would have boosted Nigeria’s economy by creating jobs and would have yielded massive return to Total and ConOil, they explained.
When contacted, Total’s spokesperson, Charles Ogan, in an email to PREMIUM TIMES, said the matter is an “obvious internal administrative subject.”
Also, ConOil is engaged in a decade-long dispute with British oil firm, Vitol, over its
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