FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST SHELL, CHEVRON & OTHERS TO RECOVER US$12 BILLION ON MISSING CRUDE OIL REVENUES
In a move seen by industry analysts as a major step by the Buhari administration towards curbing the menace of crude oil theft, the Federal Government of Nigeria has instituted civil actions against Shell, Chevron, Agip and other prominent oil companies to recover over N2 Trillion in missing revenues from over 57 million barrels of crude oil shipments that were either not declared or under-declared between the period 2011 and 2014.
In suits filed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by a team of Lawyers including Prof. Ajogwu, SAN, Mr. Larry, SAN, Mr. Ajuwa and Mr. Anuga against the oil giants, the FG is praying the Federal High Court to direct the Defendants to pay into the Federal Government of Nigeria’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the sums of over $0.6 Billion (USD 51,033,180, USD 462,681,780, and USD 145, 848, 551) in the first instance being the value of missing revenues accruable to the Government of Nigeria from the shortfall/ undeclared/ under-declared crude oil shipments made by the Defendants.
The significant Crude Oil theft takes the form of accounting fraud, non-declaration or under declaration of crude and gas cargoes. The cases reveal instances where an oil tanker declares that it loaded about 50,000 barrels at Nigeria’s port, but the same vessel on arrival at a port in the USA, it would discharge over 60,000 barrels of crude oil (an impossibility) It is the differences that account for the losses running into billions of dollars in lost revenues.
It is the Federal Government’s argument that over 57 million barrels of Nigeria crude oil were illegally exported by the oil companies concerned and sold to buyers in the United States of America alone between January 2011- December 2014. The Lawyers to the Federal Government further submitted that the missing revenue due to Nigeria as a direct result of this non-declaraion and/ or under-declaration of shipments made between 2011 and 2014 to the Buyers in the United States of America alone is valued at total of USD $12,722,600,327 (Twelve Billion, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Two Million, Six Hundred Thousand, Three Hundred and Twenty-Seven United States Dollars). At an official exchange rate of N197 per US$1, the said ammount translates to over N2,493,629,664,092 (Two Trillion, Four Hundred and Ninety-Three Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine Million, Six Hundred and Sixty-Four Thousand, Ninety-Two Naira) – approximately N2.5 Trillion Naira.
A look at the exhibits attached to the Court processes as seen shows that there were series of investigations undertaken by a consortium of experts comprising of Nigerian and American Lawyers as well as Technical partners (both foreign and local) engaged by the Federal Government for the intelligence-based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydocarbons (including crude oil and gas) with the main purpose of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas export/sales to the different parts of the world. The said investigations revealed that the crude oil declared to have been exported from Nigeria between January 2011 and December 2014, was less than what was declared to have been imported into the United States of America, with stricter measures.
It is gathered that prior to filing the suits, the crucial data and reports had been made available to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who it is gathered are making preparations to move towards major recoveries from the errant companies, for the people of Nigeria
As at the time of going to Press, the matter is yet to be assigned to any Judge neither has there been a reaction from the Oil Companies concerned.
This move is seen by Industry players as a commendable and positive one by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to curb oil theft, encourage transparency as well as sanitize the Oil and gas industry; and further send a strong signal that the days of such reckless behaviour are indeed over.
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