- NNPC Suspends Cash Call Payment to Italy’s Eni
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has suspended cash call repayments to Italian oil major, Eni, for three months and did not plan to renew some of the firm’s asset licences.
NNPC owes billions of dollars to international oil companies (IOCs), including Eni, its share of operating costs for their joint ventures, better known as cash calls.
The corporation, has however, paid over $2 billion of the debt, which was originally $5 billion.
This is coming as the Supreme Court in London will hear an appeal by Nigerian farmers and fishermen to pursue claims in England against oil major, Shell, over oil spills in the Niger Delta, lawyers for the two affected communities said yesterday.
NNPC’s refusal to pay Eni’s cash calls followed some disputes, which have hindered development of some of the country’s oil assets.
NNPC has also disclosed its unwillingness to ensure the renewal of Eni’s expired licences.
In a statement yesterday by NNPC’s spokesman, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, the corporation promised to work closely with Agip to speedily resolve all pending issues that led to the suspension of the cash-call repayment.
The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari, made the commitment on Tuesday during a business visit by a delegation from ENi/Agip led by the Executive Vice Chairman, Sub-Saharan African Region and Chairman ENI Exploration and Production in Nigeria, Mr. Brusco Guido.
The statement quoted Kyari as saying that the failure to pay cash call arrears in the last three months was deliberate and meant to ensure that the issues surrounding the agreement settled.
“The money is there, it is ready. We will pay as soon as the issues are resolved by the end of the week,” Kyari stated.
On the issue of some of the expired assets, the GMD said there was no immediate plan to renew the licences as the federal government was interested in having the exploration and production arm of the NNPC, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), operate them.
On the Okpai Independent Power Project, Kyari said the issues that led to the delay in payment had been resolved and payment would be done as soon as possible.
“We will work with you. You can count on us,” he assured the Agip team, urging them to fast-track the Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery to ensure that it was delivered before the scheduled date of October 2019.
Earlier, Guido had said the company aligned with the GMD’s three-point agenda of growing reserves, growing production, and cutting cost.
He, however, listed some challenges that had hampered its operation and urged the NNPC management to help resolve them in order to meet its target of growing production from the JV assets by 30 per cent over last year’s rate.
Meanwhile, NNPC has restated its commitment to the prompt payment of proceeds from its operations to the Federation Account and steady supply of petroleum products to Nigerians.
Its Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mr. Umar Ajiya, renewed the commitment at a strategy session in Abuja with heads of Accounts Department of the corporation’s subsidiaries.
Another statement yesterday by Ughamadu stated that the meeting was part of the initiatives to rally the corporation’s business leaders in support of the new management’s agenda.
Ajiya stated that the strategic role of the Accounts Directorate was crucial to the realisation of the new GMD’s goals and objectives, stressing that there was need for all managers of accounts to improve on deliverables.
“This important meeting is to ensure that the management of Finance and Accounts Directorate corporate-wide are properly briefed on the direction of the new NNPC management and work as a team to deliver on the GMD’s commitments to the nation among which are: paying what is attributable to the federation by way of FAAC remittances and meeting up with obligations to all stakeholders as and when due,” he said.
The CFO listed eight key areas where the Accounts Directorate can help in actualising the GMD’s agenda to include: liquidity management; financing for growth; business process improvement, budget and budgetary controls payment system, cost control/discipline, real-time financial reporting, capacity building, autonomy for SBUs, and maintenance of pension funding.
He stated that the GMD’s mandates and commitments had financial implications and the directorate was looking ahead and ready to implement the direct debit and cash sweep mechanism to grow other businesses for a more viable corporation.
Ajiya said under his watch, SBU autonomy would be enhanced but such freedom must be tied to the responsibility of going beyond self-funding to contributing to the general purse.
UK Supreme Court to Hear Nigerians’ Oil Spill Case
In another development, the Supreme Court in London will hear an appeal by Nigerian farmers and fishermen to pursue claims in England against Shell over oil spills in the Niger Delta.
Reuters reported that the decision to hear the appeal re-opens the possibility for British multinationals to be held liable at home for their subsidiaries’ actions abroad.
It comes after a setback in February last year when a London court ruled that the claim could not be pursued in England.
“The decision will allow the two communities from Bille and Ogale in the Niger Delta to appeal to the UK’s highest court, having suffered from decades of pollution from Shell’s pipelines,” Leigh Day, the law firm representing the communities, said in a statement.
The main question for the courts is whether they have jurisdiction over claims against Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), which is jointly operated with the Nigerian government.
“We maintain that claims by Nigerian communities against a Nigerian company about events in Nigeria, should be heard in Nigeria and not the UK,” said an SPDC spokeswoman.
SPDC added that the spills are chiefly due to oil theft, sabotage and illegal refining.
But the communities maintained that they couldn’t seek redress in Nigerian courts.
“The English courts are our only hope because we cannot get justice in Nigeria,” said King Okpabi, the ruler of the Ogale community, in yesterday’s statement.
Ruling on a similar case in April, London’s Supreme Court decided that Zambian villagers had the right to sue India-listed mining company, Vedanta, in England.
India, Spain, the Netherlands, USA, Nigeria’s Major Export Markets -NBS
India, Spain and the Netherland top Nigeria’s export markets in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The Commodity Price Indices and Terms of Trade Q4 2020 report showed that the United States and China trailed the three.
However, the NBS revealed Nigeria exports mainly crude oil and natural gas during the period under review.
It, “The major export and import market of Nigeria in Q4 2020 were India, Spain, the Netherlands, United States and China.
“The major export to these countries were crude petroleum and natural gas. The major imports from the countries were motor spirits, used vehicles, motorcycles and antibiotics.”
The bureau stated that the all-commodity group import index increased by 0.13 per cent between October and December 2020.
“This was driven mainly by an increase in the prices of base metals and articles of base metals (one per cent), boilers, machinery and appliances; parts thereof (1.03 per cent), and products of the chemical and allied industries (0.75 per cent),” it stated.
The NBS, however, noted that the index was negatively affected by animal and vegetable fats and oils and other cleavage products.
Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy
The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.
Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.
The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.
According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.
Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.
The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.
He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.
‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.
Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.
‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.
Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.
Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.
The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.
Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.
According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.
The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.
He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.
France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership
France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.
Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.
A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.
“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”
It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.
It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.
It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.
It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”
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