Lagos - A probe alleging Nigeria has lost out on tens of billions of
dollars in recent years through questionable practices in Africa's
biggest oil-and-gas industry has stirred controversy and calls for
The report from a government-appointed task force has not
been officially made public, but leaked copies have generated strong
responses from officials, the state oil firm and private companies,
which dispute many of its findings.
seeking changes to an industry that operates with little transparency
and which has long been seen as awash with graft have however sought to
pressure the government into addressing the problems alleged.
139-page report, a copy of which has been obtained by AFP, is a rare
look at the inner-workings of an industry that provides Nigeria with
more than two-thirds of government revenue and nearly all of its export
It alleges that Nigeria's government has been
shortchanged billions of dollars due to issues including unpaid
royalties, exchange rate disparities, theft and pricing discrepancies.
questions Nigeria's bidding process that grants licences to oil
producers as well as the practice of using private traders to act as
middlemen in certain aspects of the industry, which it says creates
obvious avenues for graft.
Some examples of the amounts the report says Nigeria may have lost or is owed include:
billion due to what appeared to be lower-than-usual prices for gas
sales to NLNG, whose shareholders include Shell, Total, ENI and state
oil firm NNPC
-More than $6 billion per year due to crude theft. It says there is evidence members of the security forces profit from it.
-$4.6 billion due to price discrepancies in domestic crude sales
-$3.03 billion in unpaid royalties
-$947 million from gas produced from a Shell offshore field
-$560 million in unpaid signature bonuses
Most of the findings were based on a review of the industry between 2005 through 2011, though some data goes back to 2002.
disputes much of the report, saying there were major flaws in
calculations alleging price discrepancies, exchange rate disparities and
apparent losses linked to gas.
The state firm argued in a statement which detailed its objections that it had presented its analysis to the task force.
therefore question the basis of the decision of the task force to
ignore this information and data which would have ably assisted it in
arriving at verifiable conclusions and recommendations without
misleading the public as the report clearly did," it said.
Shell also refuted findings that it owed Nigeria for gas produced at its offshore Bonga field.
allegation is incorrect but we cannot comment further as we do not know
the basis of the calculations that yielded the $947 million number," it
said in a statement in response to questions from AFP.
sales to liquefied natural gas firm NLNG, Shell said an analysis based
only on end-user prices would be wrong since it did not consider costs
related to transport and processing, among others issues.
the other shareholders in NLNG, France-based Total declined to comment
on the report, saying that it "to the best of our knowledge has not been
adopted by the federal government of Nigeria."
referred questions on that specific matter to NLNG, which issued a
statement disputing the findings in line with Shell's.
Calls for action
report has been presented to President Goodluck Jonathan, who has
appointed a committee to study it. Such reports are often quickly
forgotten in Nigeria, though anti-graft groups have pressed for action.
of using the findings "to combat impunity for corruption in the oil
sector, the government has embarked on a widespread public campaign to
rubbish the report of a task force that it voluntarily commissioned,"
prominent anti-graft organisation SERAP said in a statement.
task force was appointed in February after a nationwide strike and
protests brought tens of thousands of people into the streets. It was
led by Nuhu Ribadu, a former head of Nigeria's anti-graft agency.
protests were sparked by an attempt to remove fuel subsidies, which
Nigerians view as their only benefit from the oil industry because they
keep petrol prices low.
However, the demonstrations grew to
embrace a range of issues, particularly corruption in a country viewed
as one of the world's most graft-ridden.
The government was forced to take action, partially reneging on fuel subsidies and appointing the task force.
Jonathan, speaking during a recent televised question-and-answer
session, sought to assure a sceptical nation that corruption in the oil
industry was being addressed.
"There was never a time that the oil
industry has been so attacked from all angles, because a number of
Nigerians feel that a lot of wrong things are being done," he said.