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Malabu: Shell Confesses to Knowing Dan Etete would Benefit from the $1.3bn Payment for OPL 245 following Revelation from Leaked Emails



After six years of denial, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has admitted knowing that Dan Etete would benefit from the $1.3bn it paid to get the OPL 245 oil block, one of the richest in Africa.

Dan Etete, Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister in 1998 had awarded the licence for OPL 245 oil block to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company he owned.

That contract was nullified by Obasanjo when he assumed office as president in 1999.

Obasanjo assigned the oil block to Shell – without public bid. Ownership was suspiciously reverted to Malabu thereafter, leading to legal action by Shell who later resorted to negotiating directly with Etete after President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office in 2010.

Of the $1.3 billion paid by Shell and Eni for the block, only $210 million went into the federal government’s treasury as “signature bonus” while the rest went to Malabu Oil and Gas.

The oil block was handed over to the federal government following a Federal High Court order on January 26.

Shell filed a motion to reverse the order and on March 17, 2017, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered that the oil block be returned to Shell and Eni, an Italian oil company.

Quoting Shell’s spokesperson Andy Norman, The New York Times said: “Over time, it became clear to us that Etete was involved in Malabu and that the only way to resolve the impasse through a negotiated settlement was to engage with Etete and Malabu, whether we liked it or not.”

Norman said Shell knew the Nigerian government “would compensate Malabu to settle its claim on the block.”

“We believe that the settlement was a fully legal transaction,” with Nigerian government, Norman said.

Eni has said an internal investigation found no wrongdoing.

Italian prosecutors are currently on the case and have recommended that Shell and Eni (including its CEO Claudio Descalzi and other officials), stand trial.

Shell’s confession is coming a day after a recording between its CEO Ben van Beurden, and his then chief financial officer, Simon Henry, was leaked. The recording revealed that the company knew that a large percentage of the $1.3bn was going to Etete.

Ben van Beurden, in the phone call, expressed worries that the internal emails Shell’s investigators had uncovered could draw the attention of the United States Justice Department. In particular, he cited emails written by former members of the British spy agency known as MI6 that Shell had hired.

Shell had already been charged in the U.S. for alleged bribery.

Listen to the conversation below:

According to Global Witness, the leaked emails show that Shell knew the $1.3bn would go into “paying people off”.

“This is a huge U-turn that reveals Shell’s duplicity. For six years, it has asserted it only paid the Nigerian government, insisting it has ‘never been anything but transparent’ about the deal for the oil block, and that its actions were ‘morally OK’.

Now its private emails have come to light, Shell has admitted it dealt with Etete – a convicted money launderer – to ensure it got its hands on this valuable oil block, at the expense of the Nigerian people. This shows that Shell has not only knowingly deprived a country of life-saving funds but has repeatedly misled its investors and the broader public over this corrupt deal,” Simon Taylor, founder of Global Witness said.


  1. AceOfSpades

    April 12, 2017 at 1:32 am

    CEO, CFO…..that’s Tonto Dike’s husband’s fraud specialty. I know because….never mind!

    • ND babe

      April 12, 2017 at 4:15 am

      Dan Etete, the one with the cub (lion) for a pet back in the late nineties. the oil minister from Izon land that has a mansion he cannot inhabit in Port Harcourt, so much so that mad people have taken over the marbled edifice. The same one who has a mansion in Bayelsa that is not accessible by road. Sometimes when people say we Niger Deltans are foolish, I cannot argue against them. Who have you employed or grown outside your immediate spawn with all this money, hmm? Can you see why you hath murdered sleep with thine own hands?

  2. amaa

    April 12, 2017 at 2:07 am

    And you said that Shell wont pay for what it did to the Ogoni people and the Niger Delta. The give and the taker of bribes both guilty

  3. Nakoms

    April 12, 2017 at 4:49 am

    “………..and an attempt to deliver significant revenue to GLJ. GLJ stands for Goodluck Jonathan President of Nigeria at the time……..”

    That man was a real slow poison and will go down as the worst president in the nations history!

    • NG

      April 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      That is a narrative that has been sold to the gullible because the South South does not have as loud a voice or deft of inky hands or is it (typing fingers) to yell as loud about other thieves in Nigeria.

      Oil has been the single most valuable source of Nigerian earnings since its discovery. Since then, you have seen many billionaires in naira, dollars, etc, how many are South Southerners? Is Jonathan the richest ex-president of Nigeria? NO. Are the richest men and women in Nigeria from South-South? NO. If oil has been our main stay, can you not do the maths and see that nearly all our richests at some point or other or in some way or the other were profiteers from the corruption in that industry?

      There is no getting us to buy into that ‘GEJ is the most corrupt president’ narrative. Nah!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Big Tee

    April 12, 2017 at 5:58 am

    There we go again…. people who should know better are bringing issues to the court of public opinion, Let’s be objective for a minute, 1) the oil block’s license belongs to Malabu O&G prior to Obj’s intervention, and then 2) Obj wanted to do the right thing, so he nullified the license while passing it to Shell. But 3) M O&G went to court to force FG to honor the initial licensing agreements. 4) Shell had no option but to negotiate if it really wanted its hands on that oil block. Now the natural thing to happen is that M O&G will request for huge sums, while its owners will get a huge payday. So I highly suspect that if EFCC takes over this case, they will find out that Dan Etete has no case of wrong doing to answer because it was a legitimate transaction between 2 companies. However, what FG can do is to find ways to legitimately nullify the first license, there should be a paragraph in our constitution that protects us. But who is even ready to fight Dan Etete? That person is probably ready to risk it all with their life.

  5. Tolulope

    April 12, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Most business deals in Nigeria are always in this form, sadly it’s seen as being normal.
    Can Nigerians do any business deal without cut backs? I doubt we can even when the money involved is less than 10k naira.
    Malabu oil scandal can’t be the biggest scam in the Nigeria oil and gas sector. Investigate other deals and you’ll be shocked to your bone marrow.

  6. tiny

    April 12, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Goodluck said he was never given money, so please evidence beyond reasonable doubt is needed at this time.

  7. Nunulicious

    April 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Where are the investigative reporters? Let’s see a video documentary of Dan Etetes village, the hospitals, the borehole and the roads. Where are the vaccines, the schools, the pensions? Where is the security, the infrastructure that should encourage industries to set up in his local govt and state.
    Chai. Hmmmmmn.

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