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Nigeria records over 6,000 tonnes of oil spillage by saboteurs in 2021 – Shell

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Multinational oil and gas company, Shell Plc has revealed that the volume of crude oil spills caused by sabotage in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta more than doubled to 3,300 tonnes last year, a level last seen seven years ago in 2016.

Report says the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria is one of the most polluted places on Earth. Decades of spillages from over 50 years of oil operations continue to erode local communities’ health, well-being, and livelihoods. 75% of spills since 2016 are due to theft and sabotage, mostly by militants and organized crime groups.

Most often the oil and gas are delivered safely to domestic and international customers without problem thanks to a dedicated focus on operational excellence, spill prevention and, if necessary, responding quickly to any spill.

However, multinational in its 2021 Nigeria report (Pdf) claimed that the total spilled volume of crude oil is the lowest for at least 10 years.

“Spills from the SPDC JV operations, activities, and assets are now uncommon and, as the operator, SPDC operates to the same technical standards as Shell companies globally. Illegal activities and their legacy continue to require additional work, security, and engagement with local communities”. The Report reads.

Premiumtimesng report says between January 2019 and April 2021, 12 states in Nigeria recorded 881 cases of oil spillage, according to data obtained from NOSDRA, a government-run satellite tracker. “About 77 percent of the spills were said to have occurred in only three oil-producing states: Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers. The three are among Nigeria’s highest oil producers for that period. However, Nigeria’s second-highest oil-producing state during the period, Akwa Ibom, only witnessed 26 oil spills within that period” The report concludes.

Shell operations in Nigeria have encountered difficulties lately in the Delta caused due to operational incidents, theft and sabotage so much that the company has started moves to divest but that decision has not not been without hurdles.

Last month, a Nigerian court stopped Shell from selling any assets in Nigeria until a decision is reached on the company’s appeal of a nearly $2 billion penalty for an alleged oil spill.

In 2021, Shell agreed to pay a Nigerian community $111.68 million to settle a case over an oil spill that took place more than 50 years ago.

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Nigerian court voids tax evasion charges against executives of Binance

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A Nigerian court dismissed tax evasion charges against two executives of Binance on Friday, following the appointment of a local agent by the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world to represent it in all legal proceedings about the accusations.

The accusations of tax evasion were refuted by Binance, Tigran Gambaryan, an American citizen who oversees financial crimes compliance for the company, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa and a native of Kenya.

The court’s ruling, according to Binance, demonstrated that Gambaryan was “not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government.”

“We await the court’s ruling on this, discharging Tigran from this matter completely,” a Binance spokesperson said.

Last month, an Abuja court determined that Gambaryan, who is representing Binance, might potentially face trial in the tax evasion case. When its executives were invited to Nigeria and then detained as part of an anti-crypto campaign, Binance CEO Richard Teng accused the country of setting a dangerous precedent in May. The company is opposing the proceedings because it allegedly evades taxes and launders money.

Binance and its executives, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan who works as Binance’s regional manager for Africa, are accused of four counts of tax evasion. Failing to register for taxes with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service is one of the allegations.

Anjarwalla departed the nation in March, but Gambaryan has been detained since February. The two executives were dropped from the tax evasion lawsuit by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service, but they and Binance are still accused of money laundering.

Binance declared that the allegations ought to be withdrawn. Both Anjarwalla and Gambaryan refute these accusations as well.

Nigeria has laid the blame for its currency problems on Binance. The country’s currency sank to a record low as a result of persistent dollar shortages, and cryptocurrency websites became the preferred means of trading the naira.

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Ghana’s bondholders, govt to discuss debt restructuring next week

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Following a deal struck with official creditors earlier this week, Ghana and its bondholders will resume negotiations next week to work out a debt restructuring plan for $13 billion in foreign notes, according to four sources cited by Reuters.

Ghana, a producer of cocoa and gold, failed to pay back the majority of its $30 billion in external debt in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and sharp increases in interest rates worldwide that increased the cost of borrowing. It had initiated formal negotiations in mid-March with two groups of bondholders: one comprising regional African banks and another of Western asset managers and hedge funds.

However, due to the planned deal’s failure to meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund’s debt sustainability analysis (DSA), negotiations came to a standstill in April. Currently, both parties are under pressure to finalize an agreement before the elections in December.

Hours after the government and official creditors wrapped up their agreement on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke with Reuters, government advisors had gotten in touch with their counterparts at the bondholder organization.

The individuals, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that the government advisors provided information on both the official creditor agreement and specifics from the most recent debt sustainability review from the IMF.

“People are incentivized,” one of the sources said. “Things can happen quickly.”

An official response is yet to be grated by Ghana’s Finance Ministry on the disclosure. Meanwhile, financial advisors are presently examining the given information, according to two of the sources, who also stated that it will serve as the basis for discussions starting next week.

Prior negotiations to establish an agreement that satisfied the IMF’s debt-sustainability targets, which were outlined in the initial assessment of the fund’s $3 billion loan program with Ghana, broke down with two parties that held about $13 billion of the country’s foreign bonds.

Nevertheless, given that Ghana’s economy has since recovered, two sources stated that they anticipated the agreement would be in line with the fund’s modified DSA in light of the second review’s conclusion in early April.

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