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NNPC denies owing government

05 February 2013, 16:01

Abuja -  The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Monday rejected an audit report by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, in which it was accused of owing the government $8.27bn (about N1.3tn) in missing oil and gas revenues.

The audit, which was released last week by NEITI, found that the state oil firm owed the amount from crude oil sales between 2009 and 2011, echoing conclusions to several probes last year into the country’s opaque oil and gas sector.

“The report contains fundamental inaccuracies, which are misleading and constitute misinformation to the generality of the public,” Reuters quoted the NNPC as saying in a statement.

The firm said it paid back N928bn of the debt in the first quarter of 2012 within its allowed 90-day payment period.

It, however, disputed the remaining N377bn debt, claiming it had never been reimbursed an equivalent amount that it was owed for domestic fuel imports between 2004 and 2005, which it said should be deducted from its total indebtedness.

Speaking to our correspondent on Monday on the matter, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Gas Resources, Mr. Bassey Ewa, said the House had yet to officially get the audit report from NEITI.

He said the matter was not currently being discussed in the House, adding that the legislators were awaiting the report from NEITI.

Ewa, however, said the issue remained of utmost importance to the nation, and that the House committees whose oversight functions covered the areas touched in the report, were already doing their personal investigations.

Transparency International ranks the NNPC, which is at the heart of Africa’s biggest energy industry, as one of the least transparent oil companies in the world.

The company denied several other points in the NEITI audit, including that it underpaid the government N98.3bn by applying favourable exchange rates when calculating crude oil sales, adding that it always used the official exchange rate.

NEITI had said NNPC owed $4.84bn in dividends and loan repayments from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas export business between 2009 and 2011, and a further $3.99bn in NLNG funds from previous years going back to 1999.

NNPC did not comment in its statement about the NLNG debts.


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