Sunday, September 18, 2016 10:02 pm
A Nigerian court will next week begins hearing two suits instituted by government to recover a total of $635m from two multinational oil companies, Total and Agip as the cost of the difference between the amount of crude oil the companies lifted and the quantity they declared.
In the two cases to be presided over by Justice Olatoregun Isola, Nigeria is asking Total E&P and Nigeria Agip Oil Company to pay the sum of $490,517,280 and $145,848,102 respectively as costs of undeclared or under-declared crude oil they exported from Nigeria.
In the statement of claim filed before the court accompanied by the sworn affidavit of three United States of America, USA based professionals, the Federal Government of Nigeria alleged that sometime in 2014, it realised there was a decline in the revenue derived by it from the exportation of crude oil.
This, the government said, necessitated an intelligent based gathering of data, which showed that part of the major reasons for the decline in the revenue from crude oil exploration was due to non-declaration and under-declaration of crude oil shipments made by some major oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.
Consequently, Nigerian Government said it established a consortium of experts for the intelligence -based tracking of the global movements of the country’s hydrocarbons including crude oil and gas with the main purposes of identifying the companies engaged in practices that led to missing revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.
To reconcile the export record, Nigeria said it compared import records from respective ports of entry at the United States of America in the case of these two companies and others, the Data on shipment of the company, including its Bills of lading, Oil Vessels name used for the shipment, date of arrival at the destination ports, ports of origin, were used to identify the buyers of the undeclared Nigerian crude oil, and the sellers thereof, as well as quantity of crude oil exported from Nigeria, and the same data for the same shipment imported into United States were compared.
The comparison, the Federal Government said, showed that some of the crude oil shipments declared to have been exported from Nigeria, was less than what was declared to have been imported into United States of America using the same shipment by the same vessel on the same bill of lading while on the other hand, some other shipments were not declared by the defendants to the requisite authorities, particularly the pre-shipments inspection Agents.
In some instances, Federal Government said, the crude oil shipments were completely undeclared.
Nigeria Government also alleged further that all crude oil and gas shipments /exports from Nigeria are required to be declared and inspected by pre -shipment Agents appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria of revenue due from the crude oil shipments.
The inspection records are to be deposited with Ministry of Finance Nigeria .
The Nigeria Government averred that high-technology information technology system including satellite tracking systems were deployed by consultants in gathering the various validated information establishing the shortfalls in the export declarations and the import declaration in the country of destination.
It added that 57 million barrels of Nigeria crude oil were illegally exported by Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company, Chevron and other companies and sold to buyer in the United States of America between January 2011 and December 2014.
It added that the revenue due to Nigeria as a result of this under-declaration and non-declaration is $12,722,600,327(12.7billionDollars) which translates to N2,493,629,664,092(2.5TrillionNaira) at an official rate of 197 naira to one US Dollar.
Nigeria also stated in the court papers that Total E&P Nigeria Limited lifted crude oil on board using a vessel by name TRIATHLON and shipped same to Tostsa Total oil Trading SA of San Felipe Plaza-Suite 2100,5847 San Felipe, 770557-Houston, United States at the port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvanian, United States of America with a bill lading number TCVMTRIATIA1388 .
Government said the shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities resulting in the shortfall of 968,784 barrels of crude oil in the value of $106,566240 as revenue to the Government. Other under declared crude oil lifting are 491,850,value $54,103,500, on board a vessel named NORTH STAR ship same to BP Products North America of 501 Westlake Park Boulvard, Houston, TX 77079 United States, at port of Texas City, with bill lading DROESVD23091101
Also, government alleged that on two different occasions, total shortfall of 768,990 barrel of crude oil valued at $84,588,910 on board vessel named AUTHENTIC were Shipped to Socap international limited of Cannon’s court, 22 Victoria, street, Hamilton, HM12.Bermuda at the port of Chester Pennsylvanian, United States bill lading ALMYSVDM17041101 and17041102
The Nigerian government therefore made the following claims against TOTAL E &P Nigeria Limited are as follows :
An order of the court compelling Total E&P Nigeria Limited to pay into the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the total sum of $245,258,640 being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall /under-declare/undeclared crude oil shipments of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
General damages in the sum of $245,258,640;Interest on the said sum at the rate of 21 percent per annum until the entire sum is liquidated.
In a similar circumstances in a separate suit Federal Government of Nigeria alleged that through high-technology information technology system including satellite tracking system discovered that on 16th June, 2014, NIGERIA AGIP OIL COMPANY LIMITED lifted crude oil on board and using vessel named VALUE shipped to Philadelphia Energy Solutions of 1735 Market street Philadelphia, PA USA at the port of Wilmington, Delaware, United States of America with Bill of lading number SEUK9HA21304143 which shipment were not declared to relevant authorities resulting in the shortfall of 175,334 barrels of crude oil in the value of $38,573,561 as revenue to Federal Government of Nigeria.
On 27th of June,2011, Nigerian Agip Oil Company limited lifted crude oil on board a vessel named COSMIC and shipped same to ENI TRADING & SHIPPING B.V. of Strawinskylaan 1641-tower C/16 1077C XX which shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities resulting in shortfall of 467,614 barrels of crude oil in the value of $107,274,990 as revenue to the Federal Government.
The Federal Government said despite letters written by its legal representative for payment of the shortfall, the company have failed to make any payments to the Federal Government.
Consequently, the Federal Government of Nigeria claims against Nigeria Agip Oil company limited are as follows :
An order compelling the company to pay into Federal Government of Nigeria ‘so account with Central bank of Nigeria the total sum of $145,848,551 being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall/under declared/undeclared crude oil of the Federal Government
Interest at the rate of 21percent per annum until the entire sum is liquidated.
General damages in the sum of $145,848,551.and the cost of this legal action.
Meanwhile, there are other pending legal actions against other oil exploration companies including Chevron pending before the court to recover various sums of money as a result of the undeclared/undeclared crude oil shipments of Nigeria crude oil.