.Reps uncover N321b scam in oil, gas sector. .Fuel scarcity imminent as IPMAN threatens showdown with House panel. • Senate plans fresh public hearings, meetings over PIB.

AFTER beaming its searchlights on the oil and gas sector of the economy, the House of Representatives has unearthed the pilferage of the total sum of N320.654 billion from the coffers of the government.
Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Dr Abdulmumin Jibrin disclosed that the amount is a shortfall in the payments for Joint venture Cash calls (i.e. cost of production) and petrol subsidy payments to the government from January to September 2013.
Meanwhile, the Senate has scheduled fresh public hearings and meetings to address unresolved fears and misgivings in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The lawmaker said the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison Maduekwe should be held responsible for the monies allegedly missing in the oil and gas sector of the economy.
According to him: “The Federation was expected to earn N1.837 trillion (or N204.168 billion per month) from the sale of crude oil and gas marketed by the NNPC with the Petroleum minister as its board chair person. It should be noted that this is after taking into consideration payments for Joint Venture Cash calls (i.e. cost of production) and petrol subsidy payments. However, only N1.516 trillion has been remitted to the government by the NNPC showing a shortfall of N320.654 billion for the period.
“Again, it should be noted that this is actual revenue generated at the prevailing market rate of crude oil and gas. The budget for Fiscal year 2013 was based on $79 per barrel whereas the price has hardly fallen below $100 per barrel for the whole year. This implies that even though we are receiving way above the benchmark on our crude oil and gas sales, we are not meeting our targets because our crude oil production has fallen way below budgeted estimates as a result of massive crude oil theft and unabated corruption in the oil and gas sector.”
Continuing, he contended: “Figures available to the Committee on Finance show that revenue targets were only barely met in the months of April (N212.029 billion) and May (N210.202 billion). While in the month of July, targets were not met (N191.549 billion) but the sum of N35.103 billion was transferred to the excess crude account
“The Ministry of Petroleum/NNPC has to be held accountable for this shortfall. The MTEF deliberations and revenue frame work for fiscal 2014 will have to look extensively into this worrying situation. If this trend is allowed to continue it will have devastating consequences on our economy which is still dependent to the tune of over 80 per cent on the petroleum industry.”
On the recent release of figures of crude oil sales allegedly totalling $20.9billion for the first seven months of 2013 by the NNPC, he claimed that it was part of the grand design to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that all is well with the level of accountability in the oil and gas sector.
Stating that there was no political undertone in his desire to ensure transparency in the oil and gas sector of the economy, he disclosed that the House of Representatives would ensure that all involved in the malfeasance are exposed accordingly.
He noted: “Much as this development is welcome, discerning Nigerians would be restraining their good sense of judgment if they fail to see this NNPC action for what it is: a ruse – a clear unintelligent effort at misleading the Nigerian public. This is not a surprise. A game of subterfuge is a preoccupation for which NNPC is notorious. Sadly, pushing out sham details as regards operations in the oil and gas sector has become worse under Diezani Alison-Madueke, current Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“Moreover, Nigerians are not as keen on crude oil sales figures as the actual remittances from NNPC to the Federation Account. The amount remitted to the Federal Government is more important and NNPC should have been more honest to present the figures so that Nigerians can understand what actually accrued.
“In any event why is NNPC only interested in releasing figures concerning crude oil? What about the proceeds from gas production? Why not let Nigerians know the total proceeds from oil and gas. And where are the dividends from gas?
“These questions have to be answered in all honesty if NNPC expects to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, the point must be made that the $20.9 billion the NNPC just presented as figure for crude oil sales will provide the impetus for profound parliamentary investigations into how the figure was obtained.
“Suffice to mention that the process that resulted in the figures presented by the NNPC were not transparent and reliable and must go through tight parliamentary proceedings as soon as possible.
The Senate hearings and meetings which would begin on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 is planned to address issues that have continued to cause the problems and controversies posed by the proposed ten per cent royalties to be paid to the host communities in the oil producing states.
Another issue the public hearing will address is that of the new regime of taxes to be imposed on companies engaged in the exploration and exploitation of oil.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs) had raised serious objections to the new tax regime proposed by the PIB, describing it as harsh and completely unfriendly for a conducive business environment.
The Senate President, David Mark, had earlier this year cautioned IOCs operating in Nigeria to desist from threatening to park out of the country at the slightest over the issue.
“The international oil companies should not take undue advantage of Nigeria. What I do not want is when people begin to threaten that if you do not do this, we will park out of Nigeria.
“We are conscious of the fact that there are frustrations in the oil industry, but it is only temporary as things are even getting better.
The Senate president said the sixth National Assembly tried to pass the bill but failed as several versions of the bill turned out at the end of the day.”
He said he was optimistic that this time around, there was only one version and encouraged all stakeholders to work together towards fast tracking its passage.
“To demonstrate the importance of this bill, we have four committees working on it. We like as much as possible to speedy this bill because it is beginning to hold up so many things.”
The public hearing will be conducted by a Senate Joint Committee comprising four standing committees: Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream), Gas and Judiciary, Legal and Human Rights which were mandated to meet with the public and collate their views in a report to the Senate.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, Chairman of the joint committee who doubles as the Chairman of the Petroleum Resources Committee (Upstream), Senator Paulker Emmanuel explained that the upper legislative chamber decided to conduct another public meeting with all stakeholders in the petroleum and gas industry in the country “because our desire in the Senate is that the new oil law will be an aggregate of opinions in oil and gas industry in the country.
“The joint committee decided this time around, to involve all stakeholders in the oil sector before the report is presented to the whole Senate for consideration so that at the end of the day when the new law is passed, nobody would complain they were left out.”
Meanwhile, a major fuel crisis is imminent as Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Warri Zone has rejected the setting up of what it called a “kangaroo committee” by the House of Representatives on issues concerning the body in spite of several pending court cases.
It described the step as an attempt by the House Committee on Downstream Sector led by Dakuku Adol Peterside to hijack the constitutional duties of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC), Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) and IPMAN.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal, which was copied to the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed and Director-General Department of State Security (DSS) Mr. Ita Ekpeyong and signed by Comrade Alabi Oyebisi for “Concerned Independent Petroleum Marketers, PPMC Yard, Warri Depot,” the IPMAN said: “We believe that the Kangaroo committee with the following members, Hon. Peter Akpatason (Chairman), Chief Akpos Edafevwotur (Vice Chairman), Chief Eddy Ossai, Chief Sunny Owuszo, Alh. A. M Shettima, Chief John Kekeocha, and Dahiru Baura (all members) has been constituted to directly or indirectly hijack the business of the NNPC/PPMC and the commendable efforts they have been making to ensure that there is availability of products to the teaming population of Nigeria. The action of the said panel tends to send the wrong message that the Hon. Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Group Managing Director of PPMC and IPMAN have not been working.”
The statement alleged that the committee’s decision was politically motivated and capable of breaching the peace and tranquility prevalent in Warri and its environs, adding that it was a witch-hunt as those targeted were not given an opportunity to state their own side just as efforts were being made to resolve the issues.