$12.7bn Oil Racket: FG Trails IOCs’ Abettors

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has launched manhunt for government officials that connived with International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the country to steal crude estimated at $12.7 billion, New Telegraph has learnt. $5 billion being losses incured by Nigeria to oil theft annually, according to Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Plc.

Also, the government, through its anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is currently beaming its searchlight on top politicians and military officers in a bid to apprehend the alleged collaborators in the “mega oil theft racket.”

The government had, in a new twist to the fight against crude theft, instituted a legal action against Shell, Chevron, Total, and Eni, alleging that the companies and 11 others did not declare $12.7 billion worth of Nigeria’s crude exported to the United States between 2011 and 2014.

Currently, particular attention is being given to some top officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), customs officials, naval officers and politicians considered to be dramatis personae in the whole racket. “The searchlight is on as we speak. Many names are on the watch list.

That is all I can tell you for now,” a source at the EFCC told this newspaper. The government, further checks revealed, believed that concrete evidence could be garnered against the IOCs through this under-cover search for local collaborators in the alleged deal.

“Yes our office received several letters from EFCC bordering on the need to clarify one thing or the other,” a top management staff of DPR said after his anonymity was guaranteed. He added: “I believe they are now reacting to age-long allegations that some of our officials have their hands soiled while discharging their statutory duties.”

This investigation forms the second phase of the onslaught on alleged mega crude theft by the IOCs. The first phase too was conducted quietly for the government by a consortium in the United States until concrete evidences of gross illicit crude export were gathered against the companies.

The consortium of experts, checks by this newspaper showed, was able to track the global movements of Nigeria’s hydro-carbons including crude oil and gas with the main purposes of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.

While reconciling the export records from Nigeria, with the import records at ports in the United States of America, the experts found mind-boggling discrepancies. Counsel to the government averred, for instance, that on January 6, 2013 the SPDC and its sister firm lifted crude oil using the vessel AUTHENTIC and shipped same to BP Oil Supply of 28301 Ferry Road, Warrenville, Illinois, USA at the port of Chester, Pennsylvania, United States of America.

The shipment had bill of lading number ALMYSVDM161212A3. This particular shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities in Nigeria, resulting in the shortfall of 660,712 barrels of crude oil in the value of $72,678,320 as revenue to the government.

On January 3, 2013, Shell and its surrogate company allegedly lifted crude oil that resulted in the shortfall of 979,031 barrels in the value of $107,693,410 On the December 14, 2014. Shell also lifted crude oil using the vessel EAGLE TUSCON and shipped same to Shell Deer Park of 5900 Texas 225,Deer Park, TX77536,USA at the port of Houston, Texas, United States of America with Bill of lading number AETK0909US14.

The shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities, resulting in the shortfall of 499,048 barrels of crude oil in the value of $54,895,280 as revenue to the Federal Government. Besides, at three different times, Shell, with its allied company, was also alleged to have shipped crude on board EAGLE TUSCON, EAGLE SEVILLE, OVERSEAS EVERGLADES that resulted in the shortfall of 3,697,737 barrels of crude oil.

This brings the total value of the entire shortfall to $406,751,070. Armed with forensic analysis of bills of lading and shipping documents, as well as sworn affidavits of three United States of America based professionals, the Federal Government claimed that Shell cheated Nigeria of the revenues and had since dragged the Anglo- Dutch company to court demanding $406.75 million.

The amount, according to Lagos court papers, represents the shortfall of the money paid by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and its surrogate, Shell Western Supply & Trading Limited, in the account of the Nigerian government with Central Bank of Nigeria, for crude oil lifted in 2013 and 2014. Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Plc. said through its former Managing Diorector, Mutiu Sumonu, that Nigeria loses 5 billion dollars annually to oil theft.

Mr. Sumonu spoke at the public hearing on the upsurge of illegal oil bunkering activities in Nigeria’s coastal region organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and the Nigerian Navy.

Source: New Telegraph

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