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Nigerian Oil Company, Tirex Petroleum Denies Engaging In Massive Contracts Fraud, Threatens Lawsuit Against Accuser

October 6, 2022

Tirex Petroleum and Energy Limited has denied engaging in contracts fraud and multi-billion dollars corruption with some top management staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

The company also vowed to sue a Lagos based company, Palmeron over a statement credited to a group, Concerned Citizens of Nigeria.

Tirex accused the company of acting under the group to write malicious and defamatory stories against it.

The Concerned Citizens of Nigeria group had earlier accused NNPC officials of being involved in some fraudulent activities with the oil and gas company.

Lawyer to the company, Kemi Pinheiro in a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Palmeron demanded a retraction with an apology carried with the same prominence on its platform and three national dailies for seven (7) consecutive days.

“The approved contract strategy/duration is a single award for a contract duration of a 1year firm plus 1year optional extensions. We are aware that the approved NipeX commercial evaluation template was in line with the approved contract strategy as it was indicated in the commercial instructions to tenderers. Also, information shows that all already approved OML 130 drilling ancillary contract services that would be onboard the drillship were approved based on a rig contract duration of 1 year firm plus 1-year optional extensions,” the letter read.

“The falsified evaluation template used to disadvantage PALMERON and accommodate TIREX’s sponsors interest is based on 290 days duration (a complete deviation from the approved evaluation template). With PALMERON’s rates already known, TotalEnergies/NAPIMS ensured their permutations does not go beyond 290days – 300days duration to ensure that the TIREX’s high rate of $430,000/day appears lower when other falsified accompany rates such as production deferment are added.

“It is worthy of note to state that TotalEnergies/NAPIMS used a benchmark of $250k for PALMERON rig rate during our negotiations, but a TIREX/PIDWAL/Noble consortium, a benchmark rate of $450k/day was used by the PSC partners and a daily rate of $430k was instantly accepted. If the approved commercial evaluation template is used, which has a duration of 730 days, PALMERON’s rate including reactivation fees amounts to $265,425,000 while TIREX consortium rate amounts to $313,900,000. It is obvious that PALMERON’s is far lower with a difference of over $48m.

“It is our understanding that all organizations encourage cost saving but the rule was changed at the end of the game to accommodate TIREX consortium by reducing the days to 290 which is unlawful.

“At paragraph 1 of page 6: TotalEnergies requested for bidders to update their rig availability in August and December 2021, only PALMERON’s rig was possibly available to meet the initially planned drilling campaign for April 2022 but the rigs that were not going to be available were systematically kept in the tender so they can be used to frustrate the award to PALMERON even though the drilling contractors provided availability date beyond April 2022.

“At paragraph 2 of page 6: It is a common procurement practice that all equipment not available to meet the client commencement window will automatically be disqualified. As of December 2021, Noble Drilling (Pacific Santa Ann now Noble Gerry De Souza) provided availability date of December 2022 at the time the rig was in contract with various options to extend to December 2022. It is obvious that the drilling campaign was intentionally delayed to December 2022 to accommodate TIREX consortium with PIDWAL and Noble Drilling.

“At paragraph 4 of page 6: For TIREX/Noble, a recommendation to Award was already sent to NAPIMS. What a fast track. This achievement was made barely a week after the falsified evaluation was carried out, with no rig inspection conducted on the rig (a prerequisite to making any commitment).

“At paragraph 2 of page 7: It is now obvious that the award of the contract to PALMERON has been intentionally delayed until such a time that TotalEnergies/NAPIMS are able to accommodate the interest of some individuals by finding a means be it illegal or otherwise to award the contract to TIREX consortium. If the award was given to PALMERON in April 2022 as promised, drilling activities would have commenced with the first Nigeria Drillship.

“At paragraph 3 of page 7: Following a formal petition from PALMERON on the illegality of awarding the contract to TIREX consortium, it is understood that TotalEnergies knowing the implications, immediately sent another letter to NAPIMS to withdraw their attention to award to the consortium with TIREX involvement. This did not go well with NAPIMS management who consequently directed for the cancellation of the tender and relaunch a new process.

“At paragraph 6 of page 7: Any attempt not to award the contract to PALMERON shall be an obvious case of discrimination and clearly unlawful. The action of the individuals involved in this abuse of tender process can be seen in different perception, their behaviour may appear justified by their personal interest against national interest, but we posit that from all indications, their intention remains a malicious and unauthorized action carried out for the selfish benefit of one person or company to the detriment of PALMERON.

“At paragraph 2 of page 8: NAPIMS management request for the tender to be cancelled and commenced another tender is vindictive and abuse of power and process, all because the plan to illegality award the contract to TIREX consortium or another contract or interest was faulted.

“Our client is also not unaware of your sponsored and clandestinely coordinated e-mail of 14/08/2022 purported to have authorized by a faceless Association of Concerned Citizens, which e-mail was as well widely circulated and in which you, acting under the pseudonym of Association of Concerned Citizens had earlier falsely, recklessly and maliciously written and published of our clients defamatory words in the way of their business similar or substantially similar to the terms as adopted in your aforesaid letter under reference.

“The afore set-out words, in their national and ordinary measuring and/or by way of innuendo, whether read conjunctively with the other contents of the letter and the email or disjunctively, are, no doubt, meant to mean that our clients are: (a) entrenched in corruption-related malpractices in almost if not all of their business undertakings;

“(b) involved in criminal and fraudulent manipulation and falsification of commercial documents aimed at gaining business/financial advantage; (c) engaged in monumental fraud aimed at sabotaging the economy of the Federation of Nigeria; (d) in breach of laid down rules and procedures and laws of Nigeria in securing contracts; and (e) involved in contract scams and other fraudulent activities.

“The Consequent Damage to our clients Reputation; There is no gainsaying the fact that these charges amount to a very serious libel on our clients that touches directly, and adversely too, on our clients’ business and goodwill.

“The concerned members of the public, including our clients’ present and potential clients and partners, who have since the aforesaid publication been inundating our clients’ officers with telephone calls, have, by reason of your false and defamatory publication formed the opinion that our clients conduct their businesses in a dishonest, illegal, fraudulent and unethical manner. Your defamatory publication, which has enjoyed wide readership, no doubt carries with it the imputation of extreme corruption which has seriously dented our clients’ hard-earned reputation and goodwill. Clearly, in the way you have proceeded in your reckless defamatory publication, you have left no one in doubt that your mission was calculated to injure our clients in the way of their business which have made the members of the business public reluctant to deal with our clients henceforth.

“Demand and Option for Settlement; We have been instructed by our clients to make a demand and we hereby formally demand that you, within 7 days of receipt of this letter, cause to be published to the same recipients of your letter and email under reference and using the same social media platforms a full and unequivocal public retraction and apology in terms to be approved by our firm; and in this regard we expect you to revert to us within 3 days of receipt of this letter.

“We have also advised our clients that they are entitled to substantial monetary compensation including legal costs for the injury occasioned to their reputation and business goodwill, in respect of which we expect proposals from you within 7 days of receipt of this letter. SAVE and EXCEPT we receive a satisfactory reply from you within the timelines as stipulated above, our instructions are to commence legal proceedings against your company, without further recourse to you, for the following claims:

“1. DAMAGES, including exemplary damages, in the sum of N5billion for libel contained in your defamatory publication. 2. INJUNCTION against you restraining further or similar publications. 3. AN ORDER for retraction of the defamatory words and a public apology in the terms and manners to be stipulated by us and published in at least 3 National Dailies.”