Nigeria to appeal $9 billion award to Irish-backed company over failed gas deal
The UK court judgment gives Process and Industrial Developments the right to seek the seizure of Nigerian state assets
The agreement was meant to see P&ID build a gas refinery in in the southern Nigerian city of Calabar. Photograph: /AFP/Getty Images
The Nigerian government has said it will appeal a $9 billion (€8.1 billion) judgment handed down by a UK court last week in favour of an Irish-backed company in a row over a failed gas deal.
Dayo Apata, Nigeria’s solicitor general, also said the government would seek a stay on the UK judgment, which theoretically gives Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID), founded by two Irish investors, the right to seek the seizure of Nigerian state assets.
Mr Apata insisted that the Nigerian government would continue a separate legal battle in the US against P&ID, which has staked a legal claim against the African nation for its alleged lost profits on the failure of a gas deal.
P&ID was founded in the British Virgin islands by little-known Irish businessmen, Brendan Cahill and Michael Quinn, who has a background in the entertainment industry. The company was set up specifically to complete the proposed 2010 deal with the Nigerian government.
The agreement was meant to see P&ID build a gas refinery in in the southern Nigerian city of Calabar, while the government of the state with the largest economy in Africa promised to pipe gas to the facility. The deal later fell apart, however, before P&ID had even broken ground on the scheme, although it claimed to have spent $40 million on preparatory work.
The company took an arbitration case against Nigeria and in 2017 was awarded $6.6 billion for its alleged lost profits over the full 20 years of the planned scheme. Interest on the award of 7 per cent, or about $1 million per day, was due to accrue on the award until the date of payment.
P&ID began recognition and enforcement proceedings in the US and the UK, while Nigeria resisted the award on the grounds that it was unduly “penal” and that the UK was not the correct jurisdiction to decide the case in any event.
On Friday, however, Justice Christopher Butcher sided with P&ID and confirmed the 2017 arbitration award, which with interest now tops $9 billion.
The arbitration award has now effectively been converted into a UK court judgment, and immediately following the ruling, P&ID said it would begin the process of chasing Nigeria’s assets.
“P&ID is committed to vigorously enforcing its rights,” it said.
The parallel US case remains ongoing. Mr Apata said his government “will ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are vigorously defended” in this case.
Regarding the UK judgment, he said Nigeria’s lawyers have been “instructed to pursue an appeal on the judgment and at the same time seek for a stay of execution of the said judgment”.