Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has rejected Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari consent for Seplat’s acquisition of ExxonMobil’s shallow water assets.

The rejection by the upstream regulator came hours after presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina said that President Buhari had approved the transaction.

NUPRC chief executive Gbenga Komolafe was quoted by NewsWireNGR as saying that the commission complies with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021’s provisions and is the only regulator in dealing with matters related to upstream sector in Nigeria.

Komolafe added: “As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the Commission had earlier communicated the decline of Ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such, the Commission further affirms that the status quo remains.”

In February 2022, ExxonMobil agreed to sell its stake in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) to Seplat Energy Offshore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nigerian independent oil and gas company Seplat Energy, for $1.283bn plus a contingent consideration of up to $300m.

The deal involves Seplat Energy purchasing MPNU from its shareholders Mobil Development Nigeria (MDNI) and Mobil Exploration Nigeria (MENI), which are entities of Exxon Mobil.

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Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited owns 40% interest in four oil mining licences, including 300 producing wells and more than 90 onshore and shallow-water platforms.

Seplat said that the transaction would create one of the largest independent energy companies on both the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges.

The deal was also anticipated to boost Seplat Energy’s ability to increase profitability, growth, and overall stakeholder prosperity.