Premium Times (Abuja)

5 March 2014

Nigeria: Swiss Oil Deals - Group Asks NNPC to Produce Certified True Copies of Documents

Photo: Leadership
Oil refinery.

The African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, on Tuesday asked the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to produce certified true copies of the bid tenders, awards and other documents of the controversial multi-billion dollar oil deals with two Swiss firms.

A Swiss-based non-governmental advocacy group, Berne Declaration, in a report entitled, "Swiss traders' opaque deals in Nigeria", accused the NNPC of conniving with two Swiss oil trading firms, Vitol and Trafigura, to defraud Nigeria of several billions of dollars in oil deals.

The report had indicted the two major oil traders in Switzerland, and seven Nigerian oil importers of creating offshore subsidiaries referred to as 'letterbox companies' to swindle the country of over $6.8 billion in subsidy claims from the Federal Government between 2009 and 2011.

Consequently, ANEEJ, a civil society group working on revenue transparency in the extractive industry in the country, said in a Freedom of Information, FOI request to the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, that it required the information urgently for an ongoing project.

In the FOI request to the NNPC by its legal counsel, Festus Keyamo, copy of which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, ANEEJ said it needed details of those deals to confirm certain information in NNPC's possession in respect of the offshore processing, crude swap and crude lifting contracts executed since January 2010.

Giving NNPC seven days ultimatum to respond, pursuant to the provisions of Section 1(1) and 2 and section 4(a) of the FOI Act, ANEEJ warned that failure to comply would result in the initiation of court proceedings for an order of mandamus to compel compliance in accordance with Section 1(3) of the Act.

A ten-point demand accompanying the request asked the NNPC to produce the approval by the Board of the NNPC and the pricing template for all the contracts.

ANEEJ also demanded records of the advertisements by the NNPC soliciting tenders for crude oil sales as published in at least two national newspapers and the website of the organization in 2011, in addition to all tenders by firms involved in the sale of NNPC owned crude, the result of those tenders and the criteria on which the tenders were awarded.

The group also demanded for the minutes of the meeting of the Tenders Board approving the winning tender or tender rejection letter notice issued during the period.

Other demands by the group include notice of acceptance of tender by the NNPC to the successful tender immediately the winner emerged; all contracts entered into on crude oil sales, or products purchase and supply with Vital or Trafigura or other traders in respect to NNPC crude sales between 2010 and 2012, including the related lifting operations.

The group also asked for the NNPC's financial statements for the period of the contracts, in addition to contract documents in respect of the $6.301 billion dollars domestic crude sales of 2011 sold through crude for products swap contracts, particularly with Trafigura and Sahara Energy, with the back-up documents on how the price of crude oil in such contracts were calculated.

When contacted on the request by ANEEJ, the Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Omar Ibrahim, declined comment.

He said he was yet to see a copy of the document.

However, while appearing before the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Justice investigating the allegation, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, said Vitol and Trafigura account for only 30.7 million barrels of the total 341.07 million barrels disposed by the Corporation in 2013 liftings.

"The lifting of Trafigura and Vitol in 2013 represents 9% of the total lifting as against 36% reported by the Berne Declaration. Additionally, Nigerian traders collectively account for 98.2 million barrels or about 29% during the same period," he told the committee.

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