FROM TAYESE Mike, Yenagoa
The National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) says investigations into two oil leak incidents at Agip’s oilfields in Bayelsa were caused by vandalism.
The two incidents occurred in Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Mr Idris Musa, Director-General of NOSDRA said on Sunday that the agency concluded Joint Investigation Visits (JIVs) to the sites within the last one week.
He explained that a JIV to the 6 inch Azuzuama-Tebidaba flow line at Ikebiri in Southern Ijaw LGA operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) was traced to third party interference.
The DG said that the incident suspected to be the handiwork of oil thieves occured on June 13, while the JIV was conducted on June 14.
He said that an estimated volume of eight barrels of crude was discharged into the environment.
“Unknown person (s) installed a flanged at 12 O’clock position on the pipeline.
“Area of impact was outside the company right of way and inside right of way, vegetation was impacted and repair was effected.
The second incident, according to Musa occurred on NAOC’s 6 inch Tuomo-Ogboinbiri pipeline at Ayamasa in Ekeremor LGA.
“At three different points, hacksaw cuts were observed at different positions on the pipeline, also wraps of different materials were used around the different cuts caused by unknown person(s).
“The second point was about 35 meters apart from the first point, while the third point was across a major River,” Musa said.
Subsidy: Reps Uncover How Oil Companies Defraud Nigeria
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The House of Representatives has uncovered how oil companies in Nigeria export crude oil for refined petroleum products but fail to account for the by-products.
At the resumption of the hearing of the House special adhoc committee on petroleum products subsidy regime in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021, the lawmakers were shocked upon discovery that operating companies don’t account for by-products.
The lawmakers lamented that despite the cost of the by-products which they noted was higher than crude itself, oil companies were shortchanging Nigeria by failing to give account of what becomes of the products.
The head, business development of Hyde Energy, an oil company, Abdulwahab Useni who appeared before the committee stood his ground as he refused to disclose to the lawmakers how the company makes profit from crude export and import of refined products.
Despite pressure from members of the committee, Useni who stood in for the managing director of the company, also refused to explain to the lawmakers what happens to the profit of the crude oil by-products.
This compelled Hon, Isiaka Ibrahim to call for a closed-door investigation when invitees failed to make open, relevant information concerning financial transactions.
The committee members as a way of ascertaining both the export and import value of crude and refined products sought to know from Hyde Energy, the countries it exports its crude to.
According to the lawmakers, this will enable the committee to write to embassies of the countries in question to uncover details of such transactions.
In another development, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said state governors have no basis to complain about the $418 million deductions from the Paris Club refund paid to consultants they hired.
The minister said that the complaints arising from the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) was not only unjustified but “a clear case of absence of defence.”
He spoke when he featured on the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The AGF also disclosed that a total of 648 cases instituted against the president, federal government and its agencies, before states, federal and ECOWAS Court were served on the Ministry, adding diligent defences of these cases in the year 2022 alone has saved the government from huge judgment debt liability to the tune of N54,888,343,888.52.
The Ministry has made appreciable progress in the actions being taken to challenge the $10 billion case between Nigeria and the Process & Industrial Development(P&ID) and was able to convince the court to set aside the case which he said may soon commence.
The AGF noted that the governors created the liability whose payment they have also indemnified.
Fielding question on why despite a presidential directive to suspend the deduction from the Paris Club Refund, he has not deemed it fit to enforce the directive as some deductions were said to have been made, he stated that when the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) requested the refund, one of the component was the settlement of the consultants who were engaged by the Forum.
The Minister recalled that when the refund was initially paid to the states, part payment was also made to the consultants.
Malami further disclosed that the governors later decided to stop the payment and asked for an out-of-court settlement.
He said this resulted in a request to the President to make the payment, a request he said, was then passed on to the Office of the AGF for a legal opinion.
The minister noted that after being subjected to necessary checks, it was found that there was no element of fraud involved.
The indemnity of the governors was also sought and received, he disclosed.
“On the issue of Paris Club that is raised. You mentioned that there exists a presidential directive that payments should not be made and then in breach of that position directives payments were perhaps made, may be arising from the conspiracy between the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice payments have been made.
“I think you need to be informed first, as to the antecedents, prevailing circumstances and how the liability arose but one thing I’m happy to state, which I want to reiterate having stated the same earlier, is the fact that the Office of the Attorney General and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has not indeed incurred any major judgment debt for seven years it has been on.
“Now, coming to the antecedents background of the Paris Club. The liability or judgement debts related to Paris Club was indeed a liability created by the Governor’s Forum in their own right.”
“The Governor’s Forum comprising of all the governors sat down and commonly agreed on the engagement of a consultant to provide certain services for them relating to the recovery of the Paris Club. So, it was the Governor’s Forum under the federal government in the first place that engaged the consultant.
“Two, when eventually, successes were recorded, associated with Paris Club, the governors collectively and individually presented a request to the federal government for the fund. And among the components of the claim presented for the consideration of the federal government was a component related to the payment of these consultants that are now constituting the subject of contention. So the implication of that is that the governors in their own right recognized the consultant, recognized their claim and presented a such claim to the federal government.
“Three, when the claims were eventually processed and paid to the Governor’s Forum. They indeed on their own, without the intervention of the federal government took steps to make part payments to the consultants, acknowledging their liability over the same.
“And then four, when eventually they made such payments at a point they decided to stop the payment. The consultants instituted an action in court against the Governors Forum. They submitted to consent judgment. They asked and urged the court to allow them to settle out of court.
“The court granted them an opportunity to settle. They committed the terms of settlement in writing, they signed the terms of settlement, agreeing and conceding that such payments be made to the consultant.
“And then five, thereafter, the federal government under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was requested to comply with the judgment and effect payment.
“The President passed all the requests of the governors to the Office of the Attorney General for consideration. I suggested to the President the face value of the judgment and the undertones associated with the consultancy services.
“It was my opinion, the same treatment we meted to P&ID, that let us subject this claim, the consent judgment to an investigation by the agencies of the government. Mr President approved, I directed the EFCC and DSS to look into these claims and report back to the office of the Attorney General.
“And these agencies reported and concluded that there is no problem undertone associated with it. The government may continue to sanction the payment dependent. Now, that was the background.
“Even at that, we took further steps after receiving these reports from the EFCC among others, to demand indemnity from the governors. You, as a forum, incurred this liability, as a forum you submitted to consent judgment. We have subjected these claims to investigation and we have a report, but even at that, we need independent indemnity from you, establishing that it is with your consent and understanding that these payments should be made, in writing.
“And I’m happy to report to you that the governors individually and collectively provided the desired indemnity to the Office of the Attorney General, conceding, agreeing and submitting, that the payment should be made.
“Yes, and that was the ground and the basis on which we eventually decided by advising the president that the payment should be made. And then along the line, there was a change of leadership of the Governors Forum. And all the noise-making that is now being generated arising from the Governors Forum is not only unjustified but indeed, a clear case of absence of defence.
“But one other point of interest you may wish to note is the fact that the new leadership of the Governors Forum instituted an action, even when the federal government was indeed acting based on the judgment of the Supreme Court. They now embarked on a fresh legal suit, challenging the payment, challenging the previous agreement, challenging the indemnity and the court dismissed the application. Their case was dismissed by the Federal High Court.
“So that is the foundation and I’m happy to report one, that the judgment and contention was a judgment that was obtained long before the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami came into office, long before the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office.
“It was a product of their own doing and they had it submitted to judicial proceeding, judgment was entered against them. They have committed to the payment of the money, they have on their own indeed effected part payment. I closed my case and I will not like to answer any further questions on that,” the minister explained.
NLNG Denies Involvement in Illegal Gas Exportation
The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd. (NLNG) has denied the allegation that the company was involved in illegal exportation of LNG or any of its products outside the country.
Mr Andy Odeh, the General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, NLNG, issued the denial in a statement on Thursday in Lagos.
Odeh said the claim that NLNG was involved with an international cartel to illegally export products was false and calculated to cast the company and its leadership in bad light.
He said to set the records straight, deliveries of LNG from NLNG’s Bonny Terminal complies with all regulatory requirements for the export of its products.
According to him, they are made under various LNG sales contracts to destinations not limited to Europe, but also to the Far East, Greater Middle East, North America and South America.
He said this had ensured NLNG’s position as a significant competitive global LNG supplier, promoting the Nigerian brand.
Odeh said: “NLNG is a responsible corporate citizen operating its business according to strong business principles and ethics in accordance with requirements of relevant Nigerian and global laws and regulations.
“From the commencement of its operations in October 1999, NLNG has never, and does not, engage in “illegal” exportation of LNG or any of its products, nor is NLNG involved in any international cartel, as alleged.
“It is simply not true that the illegal exportation is still ongoing with the backing of some top officials of government.”
He explained that the LNG trade undertaken by the company was bound by strict protocols and controls, hence not amenable to the kind of illegitimate schemes alleged in the report.
Odeh said contrary to the allegation of export of LNG without paperwork, records exist for every single cargo of product loaded by the company since it commenced operations.
He added that there were fully accurate accounts of destinations, quantities loaded and unloaded and related earnings on each cargo which were demonstrable.
Odeh said for each of the past financial years which were periodically audited, including the periods alluded to in the report, the shareholders of the NLNG never reported that any cargo or product of the company was lost or unaccounted for.
He said the shareholders included the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. and three International Oil Companies (IOCs).
Odeh said: “Indeed, the possibility of such happening is beyond comprehension.
“For the avoidance of doubt, NLNG restates that the report paints a very incorrect picture of the company’s business and its LNG trade.
“It is at complete variance with the company’s vision as a globally competitive LNG company helping to build a better Nigeria.” (NAN)
Oil Theft, Serious Threat To Niger Delta, Says Diri.
From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has assured of the state’s collaboration to tackle the menace of oil theft, which he says poses a serious threat to the Niger Delta region.
Speaking in Government House, Yenagoa, on Monday when he received a federal government delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, Governor Diri remarked that oil theft has seriously affected the environment and image of the region negatively.
He called for urgent actions to end the ugly trend in the interest of the region and the country at large.
Governor Diri lamented that oil theft, which also affects government at all levels, has denied the locals their means of livelihood, stressing that if it is not stopped or reduced drastically, the implications would be grave.
Recalling how the Chief of Defence Staff had talks with governors on the same issue, Diri welcomed collaborative efforts between the states and the federal government to tackle the menace.
He assured the delegation that his administration will play its role in ensuring that it is tackled effectively.
His words: “The federal and state governments largely depend on oil. So, oil theft does not affect only the federal government. It affects us as a state government and the local governments. We have spoken about this over and over and we will continue to say it.
“We are talking about our environment that has been brazenly polluted through oil bunkering activities. If you go to our communities, you will see oil floating on our rivers, and that has led to the locals not having a means of livelihood. It has led to unknown diseases and sicknesses.
“There is a spiral effect of oil theft that is going on in the Niger Delta and it affects the communities and the people. So, I welcome you and I assure you that we will collaborate to ensure that oil theft is brought to an end.”
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the federal government delegation was in the state to seek collaboration to end oil theft in the Niger Delta.
He said the stealing of oil was going on at an alarming rate and should no longer be allowed given its negative effect on the economy of the country.
Chief Sylva lamented that production has been badly affected, which is also having a negative impact on foreign investments in the country.
The former Bayelsa governor commended Diri for his willingness to collaborate with the federal government to end oil theft.
Also speaking, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, said the military has heightened operational engagements to stop criminal activities in the region.
He noted that the activities of oil thieves was bleeding the nation and called on those involved in the act of sabotage to have a rethink, failing which the military will clamp down on them.
Also, Group Managing Director of the NIgeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, said the country was facing a dire situation that is not just affecting the economy but also the environment.
He said the importance of collaborative efforts with states in the region cannot be over-emphasised as only one tier of government cannot do it alone.
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