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Lekoil Loan Scam Could Harm Attempts to Fill Gaps Left by Oil Majors

A stunning scam that saw Nigerian oil company Lekoil discover a loan it had purportedly secured from the Qatar Investment Authority was fake could harm Nigeria’s efforts to plug a growing gap left by international oil and gas companies.

Jan 24, 2020 // 3:30AM

Last week, Lekoil announced that a loan it claimed to have secured from the QIA for the purchase of an offshore oilfield was in fact a “complex façade” perpetrated by individuals claiming to the represent the sovereign investment fund, prompting its share price to plunge and leading the company to request trading be suspended.

It recently bought itself some breathing room after reaching a deferred payment deal with Optimum Petroleum Development Company, the majority owner of the oil field, giving Lekoil until July this year to prove it can fund up to 43% of the drilling costs.

Commenting on the developments, SBM Intel said the scam could harm Nigeria’s capacity to develop the country’s ageing oil and gas infrastructure.

“The audacious scam has casts doubt on Nigeria’s hopes that its indigenous oil and gas producers can fill the gap left by international oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, which are trying to sell Nigerian assets to focus on projects elsewhere.”

Those asset sales – announced in April and November last year – are part of a wider retreat by international oil companies which have internally voiced concerns over rising oil theft and uncertainty over the country’s tax regime.

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