The interim crude swap contract entered into with four companies by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) lacked transparency, the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a non-governmental organisation/petroleum industry monitor has claimed.
ANEEJ said the process of engaging the companies for the deal expected to last from October to December 2015, falls short of the Provisions of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Act 2007.
“Nigerians suddenly woke up to the news of engagement of the four companies by the NNPC. The process of engaging the four companies was not open and competitive and did not also take into account Civil Society Observation as espoused in NEITI Act and other statutes which were enacted to mainstream transparency and accountability into Nigeria’s extractive industries,” ANEEJ said in a statement issued through its Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor.
“We are further alarmed that the same Geneva companies Trafigura and Vitol reported in the Bern Declaration Report of 2013 to have outclassed their competitors in opaque partnerships with the NNPC are the same companies that have been contracted by the NNPC for further oil swaps,” it added.
“The Bern Declaration (BD) which was being investigated by the 7th National Assembly reports of instances which show that sales between the NNPC and the two Swiss partners were carried out at prices lower than the market rates which some persons behind the scene were reaping from. They were carried out in frequent operations that appeared incongruous and shrouded in opacity that involves subsidiaries domiciled in tax heavens,” Ugolor further said.
“We observe that the interim crude swap agreement is in sharp contrast with the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to rid the nation’s oil and gas industry and indeed all sectors of corruption responsible for the hemorrhaging of the nation into frightening poverty,” the ANEEJ helmsman said.
Two of the controversial agreements are with NNPC Joint-Venture companies — one with Swiss trader Vitol called Calson and the other with commodities trader, Trafigura called Napoil. The other two are with non-incorporated Joint Ventures between oil major BP and Nigermed Limited and NNPC’s trading arm Duke Oil Company with Sahara Group.
The NNPC had stated that only 16 firms would be engaged to serve as off-takers for the 2015/2016 crude oil term contract from the current 43. According to the NNPC, the decision to prune the number of off-takers was borne out of the need to instill transparency and probity in the award of the annual Crude Oil Term Contract, but ANEEJ said it would “want the NNPC to take steps to end oil swaps in the country. Pruning them to 16 is a welcome development, but we want an end to oil swaps in Nigeria because it is the hot bed for oil theft and bleeding of the economy.
“The best measures to optimise the marketing of Nigeria’s crude oil and secure new market potentials is not to embark on oil swap deals but to ensure local refining of the crude and market the refined products both locally and internationally. We are happy that our refineries are working again, but they, including the new licensees need to work optimally to meet both domestic and international market needs,” Ugolor stated.
By Olisemeka Obeche