Illegal crude lifting: EFCC quizzes NPDC workers



20 June 2015, Lagos – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has yet to establish a case of fraud or discrepancies in the ongoing probe of oil swap deals involving the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Duke Oil, a subsidiary of the NNPC and other private oil firms.

Though the commission had quizzed many top managers of the NNPC, NPDC, Duke Oil and other private oil firms, it was learnt that the EFCC had yet to establish any case of fraud against the officials involved in the controversial oil swap deal.

The crude oil swaps refer to NNPC’s allocation of a certain quantity, usually about 50 per cent, of its domestic crude oil of 445,000 barrels per day to oil traders, who in turn sell the crude oil in the international market and import petroleum products, including Kerosene, aviation fuel, low pour fuel oil, bitumen and others, on behalf of NNPC for sale and distribution in the country.

Sources said that the anti-graft agency had interrogated a number of officials including the Deputy Group Manager, NNPC, Managing Director of NPDC, Executive Director, Commercial, PPMC and Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, among others.

It was gathered that the EFCC was working hard to conclude its probe and ensure that the nation was not short-changed in the swap deal.

It was learnt that the investigation was prompted by a petition from the former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison, who asked the EFCC to probe alleged discrepancies between the crude oil that was lifted and the volumes of fuel that were supplied in the oil swap agreement between Duke oil and some oil traders in the country.

Sources stated that the focus of the investigation was to reconcile the differences between lifted crude oil and volumes of supplied fuel by the oil traders.

“The probe of the swap deals is not a witch-hunt of anybody, but an exercise to ensure transparency in the oil sector, given the cloud of suspicion over the activities and operations of the NNPC and its subsidiaries in recent times,” a source explained.

Our correspondent gathered that the commission had arrested and interrogated five workers of the NPDC, Warri, over illegal oil lifting running into billions of naira by some oil traders.

The workers were said to have allowed the companies to lift crude oil without payment or proper official authorisation.

Sources said the NPDC workers were directed by an official in the top echelon of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to allow the firms to lift crude oil without payment, but the said official was said to have denied giving the directive to the staff during EFCC investigation.

“The top official instructed those in charge of NNPC asset at NPDC, Warri, to allow some firms to lift crude oil without payment and because the official is very powerful during the Jonathan administration, the workers could not resist her directive and the companies were allowed to lift the oil running into billions of naira.

“When the EFCC picked up the five staff, the official that gave the directive denied ever saying such a thing. The cost of oil that was illegally lifted is the amount former CBN Governor, Sanusi claimed is missing,” a source said.

The Head, Media and Public Relations, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached on Friday for comment as calls to his phone indicated that it was not available. He had yet to respond to text message that was sent to him as of the time of filing this report.

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