The presidency said Wednesday that the federal government is investigating multinational giants, including Mobil Oil Producing for allegedly short changing the federation in the payment for the oil blocks they acquired and remittance of taxes.
This came as an Italian expert, Dr Don Hubert, in his analysis of the report on OPL 245, noted that the Malabu deal from onset was designed to short change Nigeria, as the agreement took out areas that were meant to generate revenue for the country.
A senior presidential assistant and Chairman of the Special Panel on Recovery of Public Properties, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, said at a press conference in Abuja that the oil giant, Mobil Oil, committed the act in 2009 after it acquired an oil block for $2.5billion but remitted only $600 million into the federation account and is yet to pay the balance of $1.9billion.
Obono-Obla, who spoke at an Anti-Corruption Situation Room on Public Presentation of Expert Analysis of OPL 245, otherwise known as Malabu Oil, yesterday in Abuja, disclosed that apart from Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria, the panel is also investigating a lot of multinational oil companies in Nigeria over their failure to pay taxes to the government.
According to him, “We are also investigating Mobil Oil Producing and that is quite instructive because we are here to deal with the misbehaviors of oil companies in Nigeria, particularly multinational oil companies in Nigeria and Mobil is one of them.
‘’We are investigating Mobil over their failure to remit over $1.9billion to the federation account arising out of the purchase of oil block by Mobil in 2009. The price of that oil block was about $2.5bn and Mobil paid only $600m, so we want to recover the $1.9m that is outstanding.
“We are also investigating a lot of oil companies because of their failure to pay tax, a lot of them don’t pay tax, you can imagine how much they are making and yet a lot of them don’t pay tax; that is a classic example of lawlessness and causing economic adversity to the country.”
Outside the oil companies, Obono-Obla disclosed that the panel is also investigating the bailout funds granted to commercial banks in the country in 2006, expressing shock that the funds, apart from the fact that they were yet to be refunded was misconceived to be a “dash” to the banks.
“If you recall that in 2006 the Central Bank of Nigeria gave out bailout funds to commercial banks to the tune of $7billion. When we got to the CBN to update us whether this fund has been paid back the Central Bank of Nigeria said that in 2006 its Board of Directors met and passed a resolution dashing $7billion to these commercial banks.
‘’You can imagine dashing public money; we are going to recover that money because the commercial banks do not belong to the Nigerian people but to private individuals.”
While describing the Malabu scam as a classic example of abuse of office and economic sabotage by corrupt public officials and their cohorts, Obono-Obla warned that the panel would investigate the issue with a view to ensuring that all those involved are dealt with and that everything stolen is recovered from them.
Explaining the Malabu oil deal investigation findings, Hubert said unlike the 2003 and 2005 sharing formula between Nigeria and oil companies, the 2011 and 2012 Resolution Agreement between Nigeria and ENI/Shell did not take into recognition government’s share of profit oil, which according to him are education tax of 2% and 50% petroleum tax.
He said when these two major aspects are removed from the contract the consequence is a loss of about $4.5billion to the government. According to him, the oil block, going by documents it obtained from Shell and ENI, is projected to produce around 560m barrels within its expected 13 years life span when it comes on stream in 2022.
Hubert noted that Nigeria’s loss could be more since the firm did not include the value of gas expected to be produced from the oil block. He, however, noted that Nigeria can revoke the OPL 245 Licence granted Malabu/Shell/ENI or the government through the NNPC pay for the share for the government to get profit oil from the contract.
On his part, the Chairman HEDA Resource Centre, Mr. Olarenwaju Suraju, urged the government to revoke the OPL 245 License so as to save Nigeria loss of the revenue, while calling for the prosecution of all those involved in the shady deal to serve as deterrent to others.
OPEC Considers Output Cut to Stabilise Prices
In a related development, member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their allies led by the Russian Federation may cut their production levels to restore stability in the global oil market prices, which have reportedly dropped by about 30 per cent recently.