Thursday, 11 October 2012

Nigerian farmers sue Shell

Four Nigerian farmers take on Shell in a Dutch court accusing the oil giant of destroying their livelihoods in a case that could set a precedent for global environmental responsibility. The civil suit, backed by lobby group Friends of the Earth, alleges that oil spills dating back to 2005 by the Anglo-Dutch company made fishing and farming in the plaintiffs’ Niger Delta villages impossible.
The case was initially filed in 2008, demanding that Royal Dutch Shell clean up the mess, repair and maintain defective pipelines to prevent further damage and pay out compensation.
In a landmark ruling, the Dutch judiciary in 2009 declared itself competent to try the case despite protests from Shell that its Nigerian subsidiary was solely legally responsible for any damage.
Oil pollution has ravaged swathes of the Niger Delta in the world’s eighth largest oil producer, which exports more than two million barrels a day. Shell is the biggest producer in Nigeria where it has been drilling for over 50 years. Environmental groups accuse Shell of double standards and treating spills in Nigeria differently from pollution in Europe or North America.
The 2010 explosion and sinking of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig led to around five million barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico in the biggest ever marine spill. Shell says that spills in Nigeria are well below five million barrels and that the company cleans up whenever there is a leak, many of which it says are caused by sabotage.

Subsidy Scam: Uba, 6 Others to Remain in Custody

The Special Fraud Unit (SFU) arrested six managers of Capital Oil and Gas for their alleged involvement in the fuel subsidy fraud in addition to Mr. Ifeanyi Uba who was earlier picked up by the unit.  
Uba is expected to remain in custody pending the conclusion of the investigation and interrogation over his role.
The five managers arrested with Uba include, Executive Directors, Operations and Special Duties, Mr. Joseph Orji and Mr. Afam Azubuike respectively. Others are, General Manager Operations, Mr. Chibuzor Ogbuokiri; Depot Manager, Mr. Godfrey Okorie and Head, Training Unit, Mr. Nsikan Usoro.
Capital Oil and Gas was indicted by the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede led Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments. According to the panel, out of the sum of N62,501,511,789.24 obtained fraudulently through the fuel subsidy structure, Uba’s company alone was allegedly involved to the tune of N22.4 billion.

Fresh Subsidy scam: EFCC re-arraigns, Arisekola’s son, others

For the third time, Abdulahi, the son of the Ibadan based business tycoon,  Alhaji Abdulazeez  Alao Arisekola has been arraigned alongside four others in a fresh six-count N1.1 billion fuel subsidy scam.
Abdulahi was earlier arraigned before Justice Habeeb Abiru as well as Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on a nine count charge for subsidy fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in July, 2012.
In this fresh six-count N1.1 billion theft charge brought against Alao,  he was accused alongside Opeyemi Ajuyah, Olanrewaju Olalusi and two companies; Majope Investment Limited and Axenergy Limited before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the state  High Court, Ikeja. The defendants were arraigned on a six count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining by false pretence, forgery and uttering of  documents.
They were said to have conspired amongst themselves on February 14, 2011 to obtain the sum of N1,110,049,444.35  from the Federal Government of Nigeria by falsely claiming that the sum represented subsidy accruing to them under the Petroleum Support Fund, PSF, for the importation into Nigeria of 15,206.733 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), This according to EFCC is an offence contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
They all pleaded not guilty to the offences.  However, the court adjourned the case till  October 19, 2012 for hearing.

Budget 2013: Oil benchmark pegged at $75

The Federal Government pegged oil benchmark price for $75 per barrel of crude oil in the 2013 budget proposal. This according to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala would shore up the economy and make for macroeconomic stability. Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke to journalists shortly after the presentation of the 2013 budget proposals to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan said $75 was the sensible price to fix the benchmark.
The National Assembly, however, is insisting on a benchmark of $80 per barrel, after backing down from $85 that its joint committee had earlier recommended. The minister said the budget was predicated on the assumption that the country would produce 2.53 million barrels of crude oil daily. According to her, another reason that makes the $75 benchmark attractive to the Executive arm of government is the need to ensure prudent management of finances.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Group Calls for Speedy Passage of PIB

The Campaign for Growth in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry (CGNOGI) has called on the National Assembly to speedily debate and pass the 2012 Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law.

The CGNOGI said a speedy passage of the bill will help place the Nigerian oil and gas industry on a modern pedestal and replace the existing laws which do not adequately reflect global realities. Besides this, the bill will open a new chapter of development in the nation’s oil and gas industry as it aspires to increase indigenous participation, address underdevelopment of oil bearing communities and safeguard the environment against pollution.

According to Mallam Abubakar Kalto, Executive Secretary of CGNOGI, the National Assembly is on the edge of writing its name in gold by passing the most significant legislation governing the oil and gas industry. ‘The National Assembly is on the threshold of making history by approving this all-important legislation which has taken several years to draft. We cannot allow this opportunity slip through the fingers again’.

The CNOGI boss called on members of the national assembly to set aside their differences irrespective of political affiliation and coalesce effort to pass the bill. ‘We wish to call on our legislators to rally together no matter their political party or ideological persuasion to accelerate deliberation on this bill. They must not allow differences with the Executive arm of government come into play in making the decision about this bill because the interest of Nigeria supersedes any other consideration’, he stated.

Kalto said that contrary to claim by some people that western countries are opposed to the bill, the 2012 PIB enjoys support of the international community. He cited recent comment by Mr. Vincent Cable, Business Secretary of the United Kingdom pledging support for the bill as proof. ‘The international community has pledged support for the PIB. Mr. Vincent Cable’s call for the passage of the PIB which places the interest of Nigerians above any other consideration lends credence to the comprehensiveness of this bill and highlights the need for the National Assembly to treat it with urgency’, he said.

The CNGOGI boss said the 2012 PIB reflects the wishes of Nigerians for a reformed and vibrant oil and gas industry which would guarantee economic growth and prosperity. He added that the bill would place Nigeria on path to achieving the target of 40 billion barrels of reserve within the next decade.

Speaking on the impact of the delay in passing the bill, Mallam Kalto lamented that it has created investment uncertainties as potential investors have kept a safe distance while existing players have withheld plans of increasing their investment until the outcome of the bill is determined.

On the concerns of the international oil companies regarding fiscal terms as contained in the PIB, Kalto allayed their fears and said the IOCs should rather embrace the bill as it contains favourable fiscal terms which should serve as incentive for increasing their investment in the industry.

‘We note with sadness the opposition of the IOCs to the current draft of the 2012 PIB which President Goodluck Jonathan sent to the National Assembly. While their concerns are understandable, the fiscal provisions contained in the 2012 PIB remain favourable to them more than other existing legislation governing the oil and gas industry’, he stated. 

Kalto called on the media to remain unfazed in their support for passage of the bill. According to him ‘the Nigerian media has done a lot towards shaping public discourse around the bill. We call on them not to rest on their oars as there’s still more work to be done. The media should do more to ensure that our legislators understand the need to speed up action on this bill’.
He charged Nigerians to put pressure on their representatives at the National Assembly to expedite action on the bill. ‘We call on Nigerians to keep drumming on the doors of their representatives at the National Assembly. Nigerians should ceaselessly petition them until they do the right thing. We cannot mortgage the interest of this country on the altar of ethnic and parochial considerations’, he said.