Oil Firms jittery as Reps begin probe of downstream sector

Oil Firms

All efforts by some oil firms in Nigeria to lobby the National Assembly for support against a recent allegation that they were covering up debts of about $2.6 billion to the NNPC might have failed to yield result.

Indications that the lobbying had failed emerged on Tuesday when the House of Representatives said it is bent on carrying out investigation into the matter.

It would be recalled that in mid-August 2016, the NNPC, through the Ministry of Petroleum accused some major oil firms of withholding some money due the Nigerian government.

The corporation had said a discovery of some documents led to findings that some of the foreign-owned oil firms were conniving with their subsidiaries and other oil dealers to under declare product lifted for sale, which had led to the country losing some money.

That led the National Assembly to intervene.

But when it seemed that everything had been resolved, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said the issue was too grievous to be placed under the carpet.

“There is the need to carry a proper investigation into activities in the downstream sector in this country, including the alleged debts and other cases of sabotage by oil marketers.

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“To this effect, there is now need for the House adhoc Committee to carry out the investigation and report back as soon as possible,” he stated.

Other speakers on the issue, including the Chief Whip of the House, Alhassan Doguwa, called on the committee to extend its function by reviewing the existing laws and practices in the country’s downstream, with a view to uncovering all loopholes.

Reports said the stance by the House had sent shock waves to the management of the companies, among them: Shell and all its subsidiaries, Mobil, Chevron, Total and others.

A source said all the oil majors, whether mentioned in the allegation or not in the deal, had already ordered their marketing and exploration units to put their papers in good order for a possible defence before the House committee.

In his comment, the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Abdullahi Gaya, said that “the task came in good time to curb the excesses of oil marketers who refuse to operate by laid down rules.

“It will also help government to recover funds owed by oil marketers and those they connive with”.

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