Nigeria boots U.S. oil firm Ashland

Jul 14, 1997 02:00 AM

June 13, 1997 Nigeria has cancelled the oil production contracts in the country of U.S. oil company Ashland Corp, accusing it of transferring its interests to a third party without official consent. An Oil Ministry statement in the capital Abuja said the move was ordered by Oil Minister Dan Etete. "The production-sharing contracts are hereby terminated with immediate effect," it said, adding: "All work permits and expatriate quota granted to staff of Ashland based on their petroleum operations in the country are hereby revoked and withdrawn."
The order capped a tempestuous week for oil companies in Nigeria, a day after Etete dressed down oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Group at a meeting in Abuja, accusing it of frustrating Nigeria's $ 4 bn LNG project. Etete has clashed with oil companies since last year when he accused them of not involving Nigerians in their businesses.
Ashland has been involved in Nigeria since the 1970s. It signed its first oil licence in the country in 1973 and the last in 1991 but its operations are relatively small compared with Shell and the other U.S. majors Chevron, Mobil and Texaco.
The Abuja statement said Ashland sold its interests in the Nigerian oil contracts to Perenco Investments S.A., adding: "This transaction is not only against the law of the land, it is against our national interest." It said despite Etete's intervention emphasising the need for official consent, Ashland went ahead with the transactions.

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