Saturday, 25 August 2012

Venezuela oil refinery blast: 39 dead, scores injured

One of the largest in the world, Amuay refinery, was rocked by an explosion which killed about 39 people, including a 10-year-old boy. 17 of the 39 dead victims were National Guard troops stationed at a post next to the refinery. More than 80 people were also injured, nine of them seriously. About 77 people suffered light injuries and they have been released from the hospital. Government officials pledged to restart the refinery within two days and said the country has plenty of fuel supplies on hand to meet its domestic needs as well as its export commitments.
President Hugo Chavez declared three days of mourning in the country. Chavez said he ordered a "deep investigation" to determine what caused the explosion.
Officials said firefighters had controlled the flames at the refinery on the Paraguana Peninsula, where clouds of dark smoke were still billowing at noon.

$1bn Eurobond to Fund Gas, Power Projects

In a bid to fund the humongous power and gas sector projects lined up by President Goodluck Jonathan administration, the Federal Government has indicated its resolve to issue a Eurobond worth up to $1 billion next year. The measure is aimed at taking advantage of Nigeria’s likely inclusion in a JP Morgan emerging market index.
 A Eurobond is an international bond that is denominated in a currency not native to the country where it is issued.
The Finance Minister and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, said her long-term target was to scrap the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and replace it with a planned sovereign wealth fund.
JP Morgan said on August 15 that Nigeria is likely to be included in JP Morgan's Government Bond Index - Emerging Markets (GBI-EM) from October , which the minister said would open up fresh opportunities for issuance. She pointed to Nigeria's improved credit ratings in the past year, with Fitch upgrading the country to BB- and Standard & Poors upgrading its rating outlook to positive from stable.
Nigeria has over the years earned a reputation for reckless fiscal spending and chronic corruption, ills which Okonjo-Iweala was brought back into the country from her former World Bank job to cure.

Subsidy Fraud: Court rejects travel bid by Mahmud Tukur, Arisekola’s son

Mahmud Tukur, son of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Abdullahi Alao, son of Ibadan based businessman, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao, failed to get a Lagos High Court in Ikeja to grant them leave to travel abroad
Justice Lateefat Folami, told the accused persons including Felix Ochonogor, who are directors of one of the oil companies indicted in the oil subsidy scam, Oil Marketing and Trading Companies (OM&Ts), to wait until their trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo resumes from his annual vacation to hear the application.
Justice Folami, while ruling on the application by the trio, seeking the permission of her court to travel abroad for Hajj and business trip, said that she cannot overrule an earlier order granted by the trial courts which adjourned the matter till November 13, 2012. Folami said that she could not grant their application to travel outside the country, since Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo, who ordered the seizure of their travelling documents did so to ensure that they appear for their trial on the fixed dates. The court also held that allowing them to travel for Hajj rites which would begin in October will clash with the November dates earlier fixed for trial by the trial Judge and that the dates allegedly meant for their business trip abroad has been overtaken by events.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Subsidy Fraud Fallout: PPRA Moves to Streamline Fuel Imports

The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has commenced the process of pre-qualification and registration of all existing and intending oil-trading companies that supply petroleum products to oil-marketing companies in Nigeria. This latest development is part of the renewed efforts of the agency to sanitize the subsidy scheme and ensure that only credible companies participate in the scheme in view of the abuse of the system that has led to the indictment of 25 oil-marketing firms for the abuse of the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme by the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede presidential committee.
Under the current bid by the PPPRA to sanitize the system, pre-qualified and registered companies would be under obligation to ensure that only reputable foreign oil traders with record of accomplishment in the fuel supply business are allowed to participate in the PSF scheme. 
PPPRA gave the oil-trading companies till September 7 to submit certain relevant documents for pre-qualification and registration. The documents must contain the name of the company; certificate of incorporation; share capital; country of origin and registration; names and profile of directors; Nigerian subsidiary, if any; and share capital. The companies must also provide information relating to their trading experience within the West African coast sub-region; details of indictment in the past, if any; main and address of trading offices; email address and annual turnover.

Subsidy Fraud: Governors lend support as Indicted marketers begin refund

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have backed the Federal Government in its efforts to recover the subsidy claims from the marketers. Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, who disclosed the governors’ position at the end of the National Economic Council meeting, said the governors were excited that the Federal Government’s effort had started to yield result as some marketers had started to make refunds.
Obi, though did not disclose the names of the marketers who have started repaying the stolen money, said Nigerians need to show understanding by supporting the Federal Government’s efforts at recovering the funds.
According to Obi, “from the report we got, some have started refunding. It is a serious case that people were paid for vessels that were not anywhere near the Nigerian waters. And I think when the Federal Government does a thing that is courageous and right; they should be encouraged and can at least give them the courage to do more.