- Reps Threaten to Recommend Revocation of Oil Licences
An ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday threatened to recommend the revocation of various controversial Oil Prospecting Licenses and Oil Mining Leases awarded by the Federal Government.
An estimated $1.75bn in revenue is said to be owed the government by winners of oil well bids.
The committee became increasingly frustrated after it turned out that government agencies, particularly the Department of Petroleum Resources, were unwilling to provide information on the payment of royalties, signature bonuses, application fees and other dues by owners of the oil wells.
The committee, which is chaired by a member from Kaduna State, Mr. Gideon Gwani, is investigating alleged breaches of due process in the award of the oil blocks to select companies and individuals.
Earlier on Monday, the DPR, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Central Bank of Nigeria failed to produce documents on the funds derived from the wells.
On Tuesday, the DPR again was unable to furnish the committee with evidence of the presidential approvals for the wells.
Many wells were awarded through the discretionary powers of the President as exercised by the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
But, asked to produce the approvals, the DPR officials made excuses before the committee.
Two well owners, Oriental Energy and Platform Petroleum, were also unable to furnish the committee with information on the presidential approvals.
In addition, Platform Petroleum admitted to have not fully paid its royalties for 2016.
Gwani threatened, “Those who failed due process tests and whose licences to operate came through processes other than those prescribed by the law, we will recommend that such licences be revoked, relinquished and thrown back into the basket for Nigerians to bid for properly.
“In the course of this investigation, we found out even today that a company refused to pay royalties for the whole of 2016. This is a fee that is supposed to be paid monthly.
“As such, it is important that the DPR begins to enforce the (Petroleum) Act, since it is clear that any company that failed to do business in accordance with the Act by not paying the requisite fees as and when due, that company’s licence will be relinquished and the block taken away.”
He added, “We are looking at the process by which these licences were acquired because we found out that the process might have been abused.”
“It could be that someone in government was doing business with the issuance of these licences to themselves and their cronies by manipulating presidential assent. We found out that languages that were not presidential were used in some of these letters of award.
“That has given the committee an idea of how things were manipulated and that is why we want to take it further by finding out the owners of these companies from the Corporate Affairs Commission.”
On further actions the committee would take, he stated, “This committee is determined to expose any oil company that did not get its licence right and we will recommend it for revocation.
“Revocation of such licences will even be good for the country as it will provide the opportunity for our Niger Delta oil and gas investors to partake in the new bidding process.
“Personally, my believe is that if we have more Niger Delta investors in the sector, then agitation and vandalism of oil assets will be reduced, knowing that they have a greater stake in the sector.”
Last week, the committee named many OPLs and OMLs, whose proceeds had not been accounted for by the affected government agencies.