President Muhammadu Buhari has revoked the operating licence granted to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for Oil Mining Lease (OML) 11 located in Rivers State.

The revocation of the operating licence of one of the most important oil blocks in Nigeria in terms of oil and gas production is coming exactly 26 years after the people of Ogoniland in Rivers State sacked SPDC following the killing of Dr. Ken Saro-Wiwa.

The operatorship of the OML 11, which lies in the south-eastern Niger Delta and contains 33 oil and gas fields, including Bodo, Bodo West and Yorla fields has reportedly been transferred to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).

The directive is contained in a letter dated March 1, 2019 with Reference Number: SH/COS/A/8540, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari and addressed to the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.

The revocation of the operating licence of Shell by President Buhari, who is also the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources is said to be in line with the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) signed by the joint venture partners, which empowers the NNPC to assume operatorship of the JV assets in the event that Shell relinquishes the operatorship.

Additionally, the most important petroleum legislation in Nigeria, the Petroleum Act of 1969 (as amended) empowers the Minister of Petroleum to grant or revoke the exploration, prospecting and production rights of an operating company.