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NASS begins probe on $17bn undeclared crude sells

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Thursday, the House of Representatives while looking at the new Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) that seeks to unbundle the corporation, swooped on series of undeclared crude oil sells of about $17bn and in anger postponed the seating with the aim of finding out who, how and why the sales were not made public over the years.

The postponement was called for at the instance of Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, thus prompting the postponement of debates on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper to next Tuesday.

Business Hilights observed that the action was taken by the House in order to open its investigation into the $17 billion alleged to have been undeclared from the export of crude oil and liquefied natural gas to overseas markets.

According to the majority Leader, several members were yet to receive details of the document and would therefore be unable to contribute meaningfully to the debate.

Gbajabiamila has earlier observed that going round the chambers engaging members, particularly members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in conversations.

The postponement was moved to Tuesday because President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to present the N7.3 trillion 2017 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly next Wednesday and the MTEF, by law, must be passed by both chambers before a succeeding year’s budget can be laid before the parliament.

Inaugurating the ad hoc committee probing the $17 billion undeclared crude and gas sales yesterday, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Sulaimon Lasun, lamented that Nigeria, unlike other oil producing nations, has been shortchanged in its crude oil dealings.

He said “There is no oil producing country in the world that would not have some of its oil wells returned to it. But not so in Nigeria, and that is why Oloribiri 1, today is dry, it was never given back to Nigeria until it was pumped dry”.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas said preliminary reports show that over 57 million barrels of Nigerian crude were illegally exported and sold in the United States between January 2011 and December 2014.

“The estimated revenue loss by the government of Nigeria is around $12,722,600,327 at an exchange rate of N196 to the dollar. This translates to over N2 trillion,” Namdas said.

He announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Shell Western Supply and Trading, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria, had been summoned to appear before the committee.

Also summoned by the committee include China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Addax Petroleum Exploration Nigeria, ExxonMobil Nigeria, Duke Oil Company Ltd, Star Deep Water Petroleum Ltd, Famfa Oil Ltd, Nigeria Agip Oil Company Ltd, Petrochad (Mangara) Ltd, Shell US Trading Company, Brass Oil Service Company Ltd, Glencore Exploration Ltd, Supreme Jute and Knitex Ltd, Televaras Petroleum Trading and Consolidated Oil Ltd.

All of them are to give their own explanation on what they know about the undeclared $17bn.


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