21 November 2013, Abuja – For the second time, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has failed to provide requested information on multi-billion-dollar crude oil swap deals entered between the state-run oil corporation and foreign concerns.
This was disclosed yesterday at a meeting of the Senator Magnus Abe-led Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream).
Instead, the NNPC via a letter requested the Senate committee to allow it “reasonable and lengthy time” to put together information on the crude swap deals, a request the committee members found rather curious.
NNPC’s request is the second in weeks after the Senate committee’s request and inquest into the state-run company’s operations and dealings. NNPC group managing director Andrew Yakubu had requested time to collate requested information, a request that was subsequently granted. He was given two weeks to provide the information sought (it elapsed yesterday).
Senator Abe said: “This exercise is not a witch-hunt but a desire to help the downstream sector improve its services. We cannot wait indefinitely on the NNPC. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has records of what (crude swap) is taken out of the country and the inflow. This committee will make the same request to the CBN while we await the NNPC’s response.”
At an earlier meeting, Senator Abe said information on the crude oil swap should ordinarily be in the “public domain” but has been curiously shrouded in secrecy by the NNPC.
The NNPC has three avenues for the utilisation of the 445,000 barrels per day of crude purchased from the federal government. These are domestic refining, crude swap and offshore processing. The arrangement is a fallout of the country’s failings to refine much of its crude oil locally.
Also included in the Senate panel’s request letters are information on details on the level of implementation of the NNPC’s 2013 budget, distribution of petroleum products in the country, crude swap and the number of aircraft that make up the NNPC fleet.
“The main issues are the level of implementation of the NNPC budget as the year is almost over. We want to make a call to the NNPC and other agencies that cooperating with the legislature is important to the stability of democracy. We want to know the level of distribution of petroleum products in the country, crude swap and the benefits to the Nigerian people. They (NNPC) should come prepared with the level of implementation of their budget. We want to know how many aircraft belonging to the NNPC (hired and the ones belonging to them), and we also want to know how much is being spent on hiring of the aircraft,” Senator Abe said at the earlier meeting.