The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate all Joint Venture operations and Production Sharing Contracts in the petroleum sector since 1990. The panel is to ascertain “whether or not the capital expenditure, operations, financials and related frameworks are within the ambit of law.”
The committee is to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.
This is based on the motion moved by some members of the House, Messrs Sergius Ogun, Benjamin Kalu, Sada Soli, Ado Kiri, Isiaka Ibrahim and Mark Gbillah, which was unanimously adopted at the plenary on Thursday.
The motion was titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Structure and Accountability of the Joint Venture Businesses and Production Sharing Contracts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from 1990 Till Date.’
The sponsors noted that Section 88 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigations on the activities of any authority executing or administering laws made by the National Assembly.
The lawmakers also noted that Escravos Gas-to-Liquid (EGTL) Project is a JV undertaking by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (now Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited) and Chevron Nigeria Limited for the construction of a 34,000 barrels-per-day of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) plant at Escravos, Delta State.
They further noted that a total of $1.294bn was earmarked for the EGTL project in 2001 and by the time the contract was awarded in 2005, the final approved cost rose to $2.941bn, which was further increased to $8.6bn as of December 31, 2011; and upon completion in 2014, the total project cost was over $10bn.
The motion partly read, “The House is concerned that the ETGL and its JV projects are executed at such huge costs when similar projects in other jurisdictions like Qatar, which have the same capacity, technology, Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and operators, cost less than $1.5bn.
“The House is also concerned that although EGTL projects are basically governed by the Heads of Agreement, Carry Agreement and the Venture Agreement in line with various legal regimes such as Companies and Allied Matters Act, Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Companies Income Tax Act in principle, there is a breach of the principles involved.
“The House is worried that the Bonga field (OML 118), which is owned by the NNPC but contracted to SNEPCO (55 per cent), ExxonMobil (20 per cent), Agip exploration (12.5 per cent), and Total (12.5 per cent) under the Production Sharing Contract, now seems to be far from being a PSC arrangement as it runs foul to the relevant financial operational laws.”
It further read, “The House is also worried that the Offshore Gas Gathering System, which was designed to gather gas from various upstream projects in the Niger Delta region under a PSC and JV arrangement with companies such as SNEPCO, SPDC, NLNG has now become mired in some operational misunderstandings.