Reps may probe NNPC over fuel subsidy payment

Knocks await the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Tuesday, next week, when the House of Representatives reconvenes. The Maikanti Baru-led agency will be pummelled for illegally subsidising the pump price of fuel at billions of naira. 
Speaker Yakubu Dogara has reportedly been briefed already about the decisive session.
“Definitely, the House would bring it up and I am sure we are going to deal with that because it is wrong to do so without appropriation. That is the impunity we talk about. They cannot be the executive and at the same time discharge the duties of the legislature. Everybody has his own area of jurisdiction,” Akinlaja Joseph, (PDP, Ondo East/West), told reporters yesterday at the National Assembly Complex.
The lawmaker, who was the General Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), reiterated the desire of the House to ensure the passage into law of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the eighth Assembly winds up in June next year.
He stressed that the passage of the bill and the establishment of additional refineries remained the realistic solution to the nation’s perennial fuel scarcity.
“It is a shame that we are importing fuel. Every committee has always assured government. But they always give dates that fail. ‘By 2013, importation would stop.’ 2013 has come and gone. Then there was 2017. Now, we have another benchmark, 2019, which we are looking up to. But the situation on ground at the four refineries does not show that the target would be met,” he said.
On the position of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, on differential in prices of fuel in the petroleum downstream sector, Joseph said: “I think he wants to smuggle deregulation through the back door. I am confused myself because a government says don’t sell petrol beyond N145 per litre and the same government says landing cost is N171.
“Which magic do you want to apply to enforce N145, when you have said landing cost is N171 per litre and you are not asking for subsidy? That is why I said we would take it up immediately we resume. Which business model is that? Maybe, that is why some people are selling above the pump price. That cannot stand.”
Stability in the Niger Delta region, meanwhile, has boosted the country’s crude oil production capacity.
“Crude production without condensate has gone up significantly. We have about 1.8 million barrel per day without condensate. If you add condensate, it is about 2.25 million barrels per day. There is significant improvement,” said Baru yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 2018/2019 crude oil term contract bid in Abuja.
He disclosed that the focus of the national oil company was to enhance production volumes, while ensuring that the best value is realised through competitive marketing of crude grades to international refineries and traders.
He also noted that Nigeria’s crude oil remained competitive across the world, contrary to views that it could be losing market to shale oil production in the United States.
The NNPC’s Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Mele Kyari, restated the corporation’s commitment to transparency, stressing: “For the past two and a half years, since this government came in, there has been a parallel shift from how things were done. We are following every step in disclosing everything we do. We do have challenges of production but we will do everything possible to make sure our commitment to customers are met.”
Also, Total E&P Nigeria Limited (TEPNG) has commenced negotiations with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to forestall hitches in the berthing of the Egina Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessel at Takwa Bay, Lagos.
NPA had threatened it would not allow the vessel to sail on Nigerian waters unless its services are sought.
“The refusal of the parties involved in the project to request towage and pilotage service from the NPA (being the only organisation empowered to provide them in the country), is contrary to the laws of the country and would be resisted,” said Abdullahi Goje, NPA’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications.
Total, however, broke its silence yesterday when it confirmed to The Guardian that it was meeting with appropriate parties including the NPA on the matter.
The Public Relations Officer, Irene Jerry-Iyoha, said: “Discussions are being held between NPA and all relevant parties to ensure a seamless passage of the Egina FPSO through Nigerian waterways.”
Stakeholders had worried that the situation could lead to a delay in production from the Egina oil field and send negative signals to the international community.
The FPSO, which left South Korea, October 31, last year, is already on its way to Lagos for the integration of its six topsides at LADOL Free Trade Zone, Tarkwa Bay, Lagos. The vessel would then sail to the Egina field to begin exploration later this year.
In a related development, the Department of Petroleum Resources in Adamawa state has sealed off three filling stations in Yola, the state capital, for engaging in sharp practices.
The agency’s head, Mohammed Alaku, said the action was taken to ensure marketers complied with the Federal Government’s price regime.

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