…as govt generates $1.5bn from oil licence renewal
’Femi Asu and Okechukwu Nnodim
Every barrel of crude oil produced and exported out of Nigeria is now being tracked by the Federal Government in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, declared on Tuesday.
Kachikwu said the government and the EFCC recently commenced the tracking of vessels lifting crude oil from Nigeria. He spoke at the ongoing Nigeria International Petroleum Summit in Abuja while responding to a comment made by a delegate at the summit.
The minister said, “Now let’s take the tracking that he mentioned. Today, for the first time, whatever you are producing in this country, as per when it is being produced – barrel for barrel, we can tell. We can also tell where it is going to for the purpose of discharge.
“So, one of the things that they (Department of Petroleum Resources) have been able to set up, which they are finalising now, is a forensic analysis that shows you things. We can see every vessel for the first time that comes in into Nigeria. We can see their activities.”
Kachikwu added, “I remember when they were presenting this to me about a month ago, one of the things that was exciting was seeing a couple of vessels that were doing some run around in Nigeria. They (vessels) go to a location to pick a million barrels, then they go somewhere else, then they come back to the location when they should be heading to Port Novo or the United States.
“So, one of the things we are trying to do with the EFCC is to be able to gather these data month-by-month and say let’s track these particular vessels; who are the owners, why did they make this stop, what happened when they went there?”
He said the government, through the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, would also extend the tracking to the downstream sector.
“So, for the first time, we are going to soon be able to tell on a day-by-day basis the funny activities that took place by those operating in the crude environment and where they went with it. And we are also going to extend this to the downstream sector,” Kachikwu added.
On the recent moves by the House of Representatives to investigate the minister over allegations that had to do with funds generated from oil licences renewal, Kachikwu stated that he was looking forward to being probed as he revealed that the Federal Government had generated about $1.5bn through the process.
He said, “I see the House challenging me and they say they are going to investigate me and I’m looking forward to that investigation because it is part of their duty. But if you have nothing to hide, you should actually see it as a platform to tell your story. The reality is that we started early renewal in this country to generate money.
“At the time we came in 2015, there was insufficient money even to meet salary payments and we created an ingenious way of trying to generate money. Some people went for the purpose of taking loans from international institutions; others asked what could we do better within our system to generate immediate cash?
“So, we said rather than wait for leases that are going to be renewed in 2021 to start, let’s give them incentives to start on an early renewal basis. I can tell you that as we speak today, the funds that have been generated out of early renewal is between $1.3bn and $1.5bn and still counting; and the process is very straightforward.”
In another session at the summit, panellists made of experts and a member of the legislature, identified lack of implementation of key policies and lack of transparency as issues hindering investment and development of the oil and gas industry.