NIGERIA’S Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has recovered about $3bn in payment dues from oil and gas operators in the country, the agency’s executive secretary told Nigerian media.
The government of the West African country, the biggest oil producer on the continent, is currently carrying out a large-scale reform in the energy sector aimed at improving transparency and revenues, after years of graft in the national petroleum company and other local entities that have cost the state coffers billions.
As part of the reform, the government has been investigating the activities of foreign and local players in the oil and gas field, launching last year a claim for $12.7bn against five Big Oil companies, including Chevron, Eni, Total, Shell, and Petrobras. Abuja said at the time that the five had failed to claim as exports some 57 million barrels of crude shipped to the US between 2011 and 2014.
Local companies have also been implicated in rewarding themselves with money due the treasury. In early 2016, a government audit revealed the NNPC had failed to pay the state $16bn in oil revenues. Later in the year, another $2.3bn were uncovered to have not been paid into the Treasury Single Account.
The government is also prosecuting former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke on charges of fraud, bribery, and misuse of public funds as well as money laundering. Alison-Madueke is also the subject of investigations from the US and UK justice agencies.
Amid the ongoing reform in the oil sector, of which the international EITI is part, Nigeria is ramping up its output as it is still exempt from the OPEC production cut agreement. Preliminary figures from Bloomberg for September suggest that Nigeria pumped 20,000 bpd more last month than in August, to a total 1.77 million barrels per day. The figure is close to the 1.8 million bpd mark, which Nigeria named as the level at which it would cap output and join the OPEC deal.