By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—THE ad-hoc committee set up by the House of Representatives to probe the loss of crude oil worth over $21 billion and huge debts owed indigenous companies by International Oil Companies, IOCs, commenced legislative business on the issues, yesterday.
Recall that the House had mandated the committee on January 25 to probe the loss of revenue to undeclared crude oil.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting, chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Mr Daniel Reyenieju (PDP, Delta) said: “We are expected to investigate the operations of the deep offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, PSC, as it concerns the NNPC and IOCs towards determining the reasons for the loss of $21 billion, enquire why appropriate steps were not taken, promptly and over an inordinately long period to remedy the situation which to the loss and possibly recover the revenue.”
Reyenieju said the second referral was to ”investigate the huge debts being owed local companies and indigenous contractors by IOCs and gas companies with the view to ensuring that such debts are paid promptly.
“Accordingly, the House, requires Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to provide it with details of financial transactions between the NNPC and IOCs during the period.
“Review the PSC, the Joint Operating Agreement and other relevant agreements, with the view to regularising all the anomalies that might have led to the loss of revenue.
“In view of the above, the Ad-hoc Committee hereby call on all local companies being owed, to furnish it with details of their respective transactions or contracts.’’
The affected companies are, therefore, required to submit 10 copies of contract related documents to the secretariat on or before noon February 27, 2018.
Asked if the the committee’s mandate would not clash with others which may have been given similar assignments, members explained that the thrust of their mandate was to first, recover $21billion lost in crude oil sales.
They said the aspect of recovering debts for indigenous companies doing contracts with IOCs is an area no other committee in National Assembly has touched before.
According to Johnson Oghumah from Edo State and Evelyn Oboro from Delta, the idea behind the terms of reference is for the House to use its legislative oversight to strengthen indigenous companies which works in the oil and gas sector had largely gone unrewarded.
Asked if the timeline of four weeks will be sufficient for a thorough job, considering the enormity of work involved, the chairman stressed that the panel would not hesitate to ask for additional time from the House if it deemed such necessary.