Nigeria suspends Joint Development Zone licensing round
Nigeria has suspended the scheduled licensing round that was to place up for bid choice parcels of exploration
acreage in the Joint Development Zone between Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.
President Olusegun Obasanjo formally declared the round suspended and sent a letter to President Fradique de Menezes, Sao Tome's president informing him that the round will remain suspended until Sao Tome can resolve a number of issues related to contracts with oil companies.
Obasanjo is reported to be angry with Menezes over his signing agreements with ExxonMobil, Petroleum Geo-Services,
and Environmental Remediation giving them preferential standing on blocks within the JDZ without consulting with
Nigeria or the joint development commission the two nations established to undertake licensing within the zone.
Obasanjo is also said to be non-pleased at statements Menezes is reported to have made to the press comparing Sao Tome's relationship with Nigeria to that of Kuwait with Iraq.
Nigeria is maintaining that Sao Tome has broken treaty provisions established two years ago regarding the then
disputed area and contracts related to it, including that with ExxonMobil. In fact, ExxonMobil is said by Sao Tome's
Minister of Public Works Rafael Branco to have signed a side agreement with Sao Tome providing it with its choice of
a block anywhere within the JDZ it wanted -- an illegal act in the eyes of Nigeria.
Menezes has, according to the country's Prime Minister Gabriel da Costa, been acting without authority in this and other matters and that the petroleum portfolio is to be removed from his control by parliamentary act.