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Malabu: Italian Judge Jails Nigerian, One Other

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  • Malabu: Italian Judge Jails Nigerian, One Other

After several years of inquiry into the purchase of an offshore oilfield in Nigeria by Shell and Eni, an Italian judge on Thursday sentenced two defendants to jail in the first ruling on one of the oil industry’s biggest graft scandals.

The two oil majors are embroiled in a long-running corruption case revolving around the purchase in 2011 of one of Africa’s biggest oilfields – Oil Prospecting Licence 245 – for about $1.3bn.

Nigerian Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo were found guilty of international corruption and each given four-year jail sentences, Reuters quoted three sources with knowledge of Thursday’s ruling as saying.

Lawyers for Obi and Di Nardo declined to comment, according to Reuters.

Milan prosecutors alleged that bribes totalling around $1.1bn were paid to win the licence to explore the oilfield which, because of disputes, has never entered into production.

The main trial, which besides Eni and Shell, also involves Eni Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi, and four ex-Shell managers, including a former Shell Foundation Chairman, Malcolm Brinded, is expected to drag on for months.

But Obi and Di Nardo, accused of being middlemen and taking illegal kickbacks, had asked for a separate fast-track trial which, under Italian law, allows sentences to be cut by a third.

Thursday’s ruling will not tie the court’s hand in the main trial.

The next hearing of the main trial involving Eni, Shell and 13 people is set for September 26.

Barnaby Pace, anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, was quoted as saying, “This judgment will send shivers down the corporate spines of the oil industry.”

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Shell was quoted as saying that neither Obi nor Di Nardo worked on behalf of the company, adding that it was waiting to see the fast-track judge’s written decision.

“Based on our review of the Prosecutor of Milan’s file and all of the information and facts available to us, we do not believe that there is a basis to convict Shell or any of its former employees of alleged offences,” it said.

Also in emailed comments, Italian oil company Eni reiterated it had acted correctly in the purchase of OPL 245, saying it had worked directly with the Nigerian government.

OPL 245 is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at nine billion barrels.

Eni, the biggest foreign oil producer in Africa, has been doing business in Nigeria since 1962 and last year produced 109,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Shell is the biggest foreign investor in the country, producing 266,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2017.

The sources said the Milan judge had ordered the seizure of $98.4m from Obi and more than 21 million Swiss francs ($21.9m) from Di Nardo.

Prosecutors had alleged that Obi received a mandate from a former Nigerian Petroleum Minister, Dan Etete, to find a buyer for OPL 245, collecting $114m. Di Nardo, they said, took $24m of that amount for putting Obi in touch with Eni.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

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Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to halt the continued export of maize and soybean to reduce the scarcity of the commodities as well curb their price hike in Nigeria.

Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, NIAL, Prof. Eustance Iyayi, told journalists in Abuja that the poultry sector was currently hit by the severe scarcity of maize and soybean.

This, he said, was due to the continued export of the commodities, the COVID-19 pandemic, which had disorganised the international supply chain, lingering insecurity in the North-East, farmers/herders conflict and flooding in some parts of the country.

“Maize and soybean are being exported and this has exacerbated the situation leading to local scarcity and price escalation of the commodities in poultry production,” Iyayi stated.

He added, “The increasing prices of the essential commodities has resulted in the increase in price of finished feeds by about 75 per cent.

“This has led to the closure of small and medium sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 10 million jobs as a result of this scarcity.

“To set the poultry industry from total collapse, the institute urges the government to immediately halt the exportation of soybean and maize and grant import permit to importers at the official foreign exchange rate.”

Iyayi said there was shortage of soybean in Nigeria and other countries, stressing that the little amount being produced across the country should not be exported.

He said the current maize yield of about one to two tonnes per hectare being produced in Nigeria would not be enough to sustain the country.

The NIAL helmsman stated that the country should be producing between seven and 10 tonnes per hectare in order to meet the requirements for humans and animals.

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Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

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Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

Against the backdrop of the rising price of oil prices, the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) imported into Nigeria has increased to N186.33 per litre.

Investors King had exclusively reported on February 9 that the landing cost of PMS rose to about N180 per litre on February 5 from N158.53 per litre on January 7.

Crude oil price accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petrol, and the deregulation of petrol price by the Federal Government last year means that the pump price of the product will reflect changes in the international oil market.

Going by the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, the landing cost of petrol rose to N186.33 per litre on February 16, with the pump price of the product expected to be N209.33 per litre.

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, closed at $63.96 per barrel on February 16, up from $59.34 per barrel on February 5.

The rising price of crude oil pushed the cost of petrol quoted on Platts to $560.75 per metric tonne (N163.08 per litre, using N390/$1) on February 16 from $543.25 per metric tonne (N157.99 per litre) on February 5.

Other cost elements that make up the landing cost include freight (N10.29), lightering expenses (N4.57), insurance cost (N0.25), Nigerian Ports Authority charge (N2.38), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency charge (N0.23), jetty throughput charge (N1.61), storage charge (N2.58), and financing (N1.33).

The freight cost increased to $35.41 per MT (N10.29 per litre) last Wednesday from $30.04 per MT (N8.74 per litre) on February 5.

The pump price is the sum of the landing cost, wholesale margin and the distribution margins. The wholesale margin is N4.03 while the distribution margins comprise transporters allowance (N3.89), retailer (N6.19), bridging fund (N7.51), marine transport average (N0.15), and admin charge (N1.23).

Apart from the changes in global crude oil prices, the exchange rate of naira to the dollar also affects the cost of imported petrol.

The cost of petrol would be higher if the 410/$1 rate at which the naira closed on Monday at the Investors’ and Exporters’ Foreign Exchange Window was used. The naira closed at 480/$1 at the parallel market.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, is still being relied upon by marketers for the supply of the product despite the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.

Oil marketers said recently that they were ready to resume importation of petrol if the foreign exchange was made available to them at a competitive rate.

“The discussion we should be having today is how best to maximise the benefits of the removal of price controls and subsidies while minimising the adverse effects of this action on our citizens,” the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said at a virtual press briefing.

Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, rose by $1.67 to $64.58 per barrel as of 6:08pm Nigerian time on Monday.

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FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

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FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

The Federal Government has said about 100 million Nigerians will be lifted out of poverty through the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed this on Monday during the inauguration of the NGEP in Ado Ekiti, Southwest.

Sylva said the project was “a practical demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by using gas value chain as catalyst for social and economic development in Nigeria”.

The minister said, “The programme has its main objective to reinforce and expand gas supply as well as stimulate demand in Nigeria through effective and efficient mobilisation and utilisation of all available assets, resources and infrastructure in the country.

“The programme is geared towards the implementation of Mr President June 12, 2019 promise to take hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within the current decade by ensuring that locally produced, available, accessible and affordable fuel is sufficiently supplied across the country”.

Sylva added that Nigeria was richly endowed with mineral resources, specifically, hydrocarbons, crude oil and natural gas with proven gas reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which he said had presented the country with opportunity to use gas as a catalyst for social economy renaissance.

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