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International transparency group, Global Witness on Monday stated that Nigeria, Angola, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo lost about $4 billion (N800 billion) in shady oil and mining deals.
Global Witness, in a recently released report, disclosed that anonymous companies facilitated the loss of national wealth on an epic scale, while it questioned the role of international oil companies that facilitate such deals.
The report revealed how oil and mining assets worth $4 billion have been allocated to companies whose ownership is obscure.
According to the report, in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, lucrative oil and mining licences were awarded to companies with hidden owners, diverting vast resource revenues to unknown private pockets.
It added that in the Republic of Congo, a company whose beneficiaries remain uncertain, and which has historical connections to high ranking public officials, recently received lucrative stakes in several oil fields.
Specifically, Global Witness put Nigeria’s loss at $1.1 billion, which, according to the report, was the price agreed with an anonymous company for the OPL 245 oil block, of which Italian prosecutors claim $533 million was fingered to pay bribes.
The report put the loss to Democratic Republic of Congo at $1.36 billion, which was the value lost from just five mining deals and which was almost twice the DRC’s annual spending on health and education combined.
Angola lost $1.3 billion which was the value of part of an oil field interest sold back to the state by a company secretly owned by top officials, while the Republic of Congo lost $20 million, being the estimated value of an oil field interest won by a company previously exposed for payments to offshore companies owned on trust for the ruling elite.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has, however, dissociated itself from the $25 million failed oil block bid deal by an Indian company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp-Mittal Energy Limited.
This was even as the Federal Government disclosed that it has reached an agreement with Ghana on the modalities to settle the outstanding N33.8 billion owed by the Volta River Authority (VRA) on gas supplied for power generation by a Nigerian company, N-Gaz.
Commenting on the failed oil block bid deal, the NNPC, in a statement signed by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ohi Alegbe, stated that attempts to link it with the transaction smacked of ignorance of the workings of the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
He said: “Our attention has been drawn to the repeated reports linking the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation with the failed attempt by a certain Indian company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp-Mittal Energy Limited (OMEL), to acquire an oil block during the 2006/2007 oil bid round and the consequent failure to get a refund of the funds it committed to the deal.
“We wish to clarify that NNPC is not the statutory body saddled with the responsibility of organizing bid rounds and so could not have received the alleged amount of $25 million or any payment from OMEL for the transaction.
“We find the deliberate attempt to drag NNPC into the various allegations surrounding the transaction as mischievous and unfortunate. We urge those who are interested in the story to seek clarification with the relevant agencies responsible for conducting bid rounds and to whom OMEL may have paid the alleged fee.”
Also commenting on the resolution of the impasse with the Ghanaian authorities, Alegbe stated that the highlight of the agreement is that the total sum of gas supply debt will be cleared by February 2016 at the latest.
By Pita Ochai