A Nigerian oil company has filed a lawsuit in Texas state court, claiming that competing companies spread false information to derail a $1 billion lease offer the company made to Chevron.
Brittania-U Nigeria Ltd. said that after its bids had been accepted by Chevron, Belema Oil Producing Ltd., Amni International Petroleum Development Co. Ltd. and principals of those companies told executives from Chevron that Brittania-U did not have the resources necessary to complete the deal. The lawsuit alleges that the companies’ actions caused Chevron to repudiate its contract with Brittania-U and sell the leases to Belema, Amni and Seplat Petroleum Development Co.
According to the lawsuit, Chevron’s cancellation of the deal with Brittania-U caused the company to lose the benefit of the contract and any future earnings from the exploration of the leases. In addition, the company claimed that its other business interests suffered due to the time spent pursuing the Chevron bidding process.
The lawsuit was filed approximately two months after a court in Nigeria issued an injunction preventing Chevron from selling the leases to the competing companies until a ruling had been issued regarding Brittania-U’s claim.
According to the suit, in June 2013, a two-stage bidding process was initiated by Chevron’s affiliate in Nigeria to sell the company’s participating interest of 40 percent in oil leases with reserves of 555 million barrels. Brittania-U’s bid of $1.6 billion won out over several other offers.
According to the lawsuit, after Belema and Amni received rejection letters from Chevron, their officers organized a meeting in Houston with Chevron executives, where they allegedly made the false claim that Brittania-U would not be financially capable of following through with the deal.
The complaint also alleges that the two companies spread false information to the international and Nigerian business media, attacking the credibility and financial health of Brittania-U.
The suit claims that Brittania-U’s bankers had stringent terms imposed on them by Chevron, but that the two companies still agreed to a revised offer. Brittania-U met the initial terms of that deal.
However, the companies’ rivals allegedly then convinced Chevron to repudiate the contract completely, while negotiating the sale of the leases to themselves. Reportedly, the leases were sold to Belema, Amni and Seplat for $800 million.
The lawsuit alleges business disparagement, civil conspiracy and tortious interference, in which a business intentionally damages the dealings and contracts of another. The plaintiff seeks actual and exemplary damages.