UK court allows Nigeria more time to appeal in $10 billion dispute

LAGOS (Reuters) - A London court has given Nigeria more time to appeal in a $10 billion (7.5 billion pounds) arbitration case, although Friday’s Commercial Court ruling did not specify the length of the extension in the long-running dispute.

Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID) won a $6.6 billion arbitration award after a 2010 deal to carry out a gas project in Nigeria collapsed. This has been accruing interest since 2013 and now totals nearly $10 billion, which if Nigeria has to payout would dent the oil-producing country’s foreign reserves.

Nigeria has alleged corruption in the contract and the ruling will allow the government more time to investigate.

“We will now proceed to a full hearing of our fraud challenge in the coming months,” a spokesman for Nigeria’s attorney general said following the ruling.

“We are firmly committed to overturning the award – no matter how long it takes – to ensure that this money goes towards Nigeria’s future,” he added.

P&ID, a vehicle created for the gas deal, said in a statement that it “welcomes the opportunity to refute Nigeria’s false allegations and wild conspiracy theories at trial, and has every confidence that the English Commercial Court will resolve the case justly and expeditiously.”

Nigeria had sought permission to appeal the award, despite having missed the original 28-day appeal deadline. It said new information only came to light in late 2019.

Reporting by Libby George; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Toby Chopra/Alexander Smith and Grant McCool