By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA-THE House of Representatives on Wednesday resolved to probe the $27 billion oil revenue loss to international oil companies since 1999 till date.
The resolution was passed after the debate on the executive bill which seeks to increase Federal Government’s share of the revenue accruing from the oil trading.
The Committee was given one week to report back for further legislative action.
This is just as lawmakers asked the leadership of the House for more time to enable them conduct adequate research toward passing a more beneficial amendment to the current Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act of 2004.
The lawmakers who cited Order 12 Rule 3 of the House Standing Orders dealing with matters of legislative compendium, called for the allocation of additional legislative days for the debates on the bill to be total and thorough.
Leading the debate on the executive bill titled: ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, Cap. D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Review the share of the Federation in the Additional Revenue under the Production Sharing Contracts; and for Related Matters’, Deputy House Leader, Ahmed Idris Wase urged his colleagues to as a matter of urgency give the bill all necessary support.
However, Rep Uzoma Nkem Abonta , PDO, Afrom Abia, cited order 12 sub-Rule 3 saying that he doesn’t have a copy of the bill by way of compendium which he would have used to prepare adequately for the debate, considering the importance of the bill.
His views were also supported by Ossai Nicholas Ossai, from Delta who called for debate to be suspended pending the availability of the compendium to members who are willing to do a good job of the amendment as it something that affects the social-economic wellbeing of Nigeria.
Advancing the argument further was the deputy speaker, Sulaimon Lasun Yussuff who urged the speaker to allow the debate to go on, whilst appealing that more legislative days are set aside for the debate to enable members exhaust their thoughts in the subject matter.
Lasun noted that as an engineer who started career from the oil sector with his youth corps service at Shell Petroleum, he knows very well that deep offshore oil exploration is such that the federal has little or no control over as the IOCs who bring in the funds and expertise determine almost everything regarding the sharing of revenue.
“The way things stand, we may end up being pushed out of the sharing formula in future because the IOCs own the expertise and the funds and they can even decide to apply international laws to claim the locations of the deep offshore wells are outside our shores.
“And like the deputy leader said in his debate, government, in order to encourage investment in the section of the industry allowed the existing sharing formula because investment in that area is very heavy, but should that be our approach to investment?”, he queried.
The presiding officer, Yakubu Dogara in his intervention told his colleagues that the said compendium had been sent to members’ email addresses, adding that the bill was not just being slated for debate for the first time, as it was stood down some months back for this same reason.
According to the existing Act authorising the sharing formula, IOCs are to drill crude and sell with the proceeds shared between them and the government on a 60/40 basis at $20 per barrel of crude.
This, according to the House means that the companies keep and have been keeping whatever excess revenue they generated arising from increase in the price of crude and share based on $20 agreement irrespective of the current prevailing market price.