Lawmakers To Probe $27bn Oil Revenue Loss
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate Nigeria’s loss of $27bn oil revenue to international oil companies since 1999.
The resolution was passed at the plenary on Wednesday after a debate on the bill presented by President Muhammadu Buhari seeking to increase Federal Government’s share of the revenue accruing from oil.
The Bill for an Act to Amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, CAP D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, to Review the Share of the Government of the Federation in the Additional Revenue Under the Production Sharing Contracts was passed for second reading.
According to the existing Act authorising the sharing formula, the IOCs are to drill crude and sell with the proceeds shared between them and the Federal Government on a 60/40 basis at $20 per barrel of crude.
According to the House, it means the companies have been keeping whatever excess revenue they generated from the increase in the price of crude and share based on $20 agreement irrespective of the current prevailing market price.
Leading the debate on the bill, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Idris Wase, urged the lawmakers to support the bill.
However, Mr Uzoma Nkem-Abonta from Abia State cited Order 12 Sub-Rule 3, noting that he and other lawmakers did not have the hard copies of the bill to allow to them debate it adequately.
Another lawmaker, Nicholas Ossai, from Delta State supported Nkem-Abonta, calling for the suspension of the second reading pending the availability of the copies of the bill to members.
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Lasun Yussuff, however, urged the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the session, to allow the debate to go on while appealing that more legislative days be set aside for the debate to enable members to exhaust their thoughts on the subject matter.
Lasun said as an engineer, who started his career in the oil sector, he knew well that the Federal Government had little control over deep offshore oil exploration.
He said, “The way things stand, we may end up being pushed out of the sharing formula in the future because the IOCs own the expertise and the funds, and they can even decide to apply international laws to claim the locations of the deep offshore wells.
“Like the Deputy Leader said, in order to encourage investment in the section of the industry, the government allowed the existing sharing formula because investment in that area is heavy. But should that be our approach to investment?”