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FG threatens to drag Shell to Court over Bonga oil spill



The Federal Government has threatened to drag Shell to Court over the non-payment of $3,600,191,206.00 fine for Bonga oil spill of December 20, 2011.

The government, which said this through one of its agency, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), said it was particularly enraged by lack of attempt by the oil company to provide relief materials for the shoreline fishing communities with respect to the acute and chronic impact of the crude oil on the environment allegedly caused by equipment failure and the admission by the then managing director that 40,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean.

“NOSDRA has directed SNEPCO to pay the said fine and compensation or face the legal machinery available to the agency to ensure its compliance,” the agency said.

Shell’s spokesperson, Mr. Precious Okolobo, declined to comment on the matter when contacted

However, a source at the company denied wrong doing by Shell’s management. According to him, the company’s efforts to pay the compensation were hampered by an ongoing court case.

NOSDRA, nonetheless, said that its statement should serve as a reminder to Shell Nigeria exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), notifying the company of the sanction the agency imposed on the oil firm in 2014 for damage done to the natural resources and means of livelihood by the Bonga oil spill of December 20, 2011.

The reminder was contained in a letter signed by the Director-General/Chief Executive of NOSDRA, Mr. Peter Idabor, which directed SNEPCO to pay the sum of $3,600,191,206.00 or its naira equivalent as com-pensation and administrative costs for failure to effect clean up on the impacted site within the stipulated period, as provided in the agency’s Act and Regulations.

The agency’s statement issued by the Head/Deputy Director, Public Affairs Unit (PAU), NOSDRA, Mr. Henshaw Ogubike, said: “Despite the fact that the incident was caused by equipment failure and the admission by the then managing director that 40,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean, no attempt was made by the oil company to provide relief materials for the shoreline fishing communities with respect to the acute and chronic impact of the crude oil on the environment.”

In 2014, NOSDRA had issued a notification of sanction to the oil company with regards to the Bonga spill incident but it has yet neither paid compensation to the affected shoreline communities nor provided relief materials to them, as directed by the agency and the House Committee on Environment.

Meanwhile, communities affected by the spill, have described as bizarre, the alleged refusal by the company to pay $3.6 billion compensation to the victims of the crude oil spill, as directed by the NOSDRA.

In a statement by His Royal Highness I.B Ojukonsin, the communities said: “SNEPCO’s allegation that some persons took them to court as the only reason why they are refusing to settle the said crude oil spill compensation bill is unacceptable.

“This is because the said shoreline communities and fisher-persons affected by the said crude oil spill are not in court with SNEPCO since they voluntarily agreed not to engage in any litigation with SNEPCO and submitted to Federal Government-led peaceful settlement.”

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Stock futures fall ahead of a big week of retail earnings



Stock futures fell early on Monday after a week of steep losses that ended on a high note, and ahead of a big earnings week for retailers.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 31 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.47%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.71%.

On Friday, the Dow rose 466.36 points, or 1.47%, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.39%. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.82% and posted its strongest one-day gain since November 2020. Still, all three averages posted losing weeks.

The gains came as investors went into relief rally mode to cap off a bad week for stocks in which the S&P 500 nearly descended into bear market territory.

It remains to be seen, however, how long the rally will last or how much further stocks have to fall before this year’s downtrend bottoms.

“Given the history of bear markets, coupled with the fact that the Fed has just begun its rate hike cycle and would like to see financial conditions continue to tighten so that demand pulls back further, this rally will most likely weaken,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.

Still, some investors and analysts say, whether or not the bottom is in, there are good buying opportunities at the market’s current lows.

“I’m not calling the bottom here, but there’s some opportunity here to dollar cost average,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, told CNBC. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of cash, you’re locking in losses because of inflation. Investing in equities or asset classes that you believe in… it is the lesser evil. The selling fatigue will wane, the market will reset. It’s unlikely the Dow and the S&P are going to be in correction territory six months to a year from now.”

Retail earnings season kicks off this week with several big-box retailers set to report results for the first quarter, including Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Elsewhere, Deere is also on deck, along with a handful of technology companies.

Investors will also have their eye on retail sales data this week, which could give them insight into how retailers are managing inflation, which remains near 40-year highs.

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Nigeria issues new guidelines on cryptocurrencies 



The Nigerian government has released new guidelines aimed at protecting investors in digital assets as trades in cryptocurrencies get boost in Africa’s most populous nation.

The rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers more clarity on trading in cryptocurrencies, it was learnt.

The rules cover “issuance, offering platforms and custody of digital assets” for virtual technologies, according to a statement on its website.

This is coming amidst controversy over the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Nigerian financial ecosystem.

Despite order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to stop transactions in cryptocurrencies, Nigeria is said to account for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S., as data from Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace reveals.

Experts however believe this would go a long way in boosting trading in cryptocurrencies which is gaining global traction.

The new rules cover the issuance of digital assets as securities, the registration of platforms and digital asset custodians, exchanges and virtual assets service providers.

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Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company



Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm.

Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars. Apple, which fell more than 5% during trading in the U.S. on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion.

Energy stocks and prices have been rising as investors sell off equities in several industries, including technology, on fears of a deteriorating economic environment. Apple has fallen nearly 20% since its $182.94 peak on Jan. 4.

The move is mostly symbolic, but it shows how markets are shifting as the global economy grapples with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain problems.

Aramco stock is up over 27% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to soaring oil prices.

Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2020.

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