28 February 2012, Sweetcrude, Benin - The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) a Benin based Non-Governmental Organisation has frowned at the secrecy surrounding the recent renewal of expired Oil Mining licences (OMLs) 67, 68 and 70 held by Mobile Producing Nigeria (MPN) in joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for another 20 years.
This was contained in a statement released by ANEEJ, adding that effort is also in top gear by Federal Government to expedite action on other outstanding oil licences that were due for renewal, some belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Chevron Nigeria Limited.
Rev David Ugolor, Executive Director of the organization, which had on the 16th of February, 2012 organised a strategy meeting on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), explained that renewal of expired lease for IOCs at this time when there is so much uncertainty and corruption in the oil Industry is most unfortunate.
Ugolor noted that it is not in the best interest of Nigerians especially as the Joint Venture agreement terms are shrouded in secrecy, noting that President Goodluck Jonathan had in February, 2011, halted the renewal of leases for International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria, pending the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Rev David Ugolor wondered why the content of the signed documents by the Petroleum Minister cannot be made public for stakeholders to peruse before the endorsement. According to him, the secrecy in the oil and gas sector is still been perpetrated even in the light of all the efforts and promises of transforming the sector.
ANEEJ noted that recent developments in the country as regards the oil subsidy management has exposed the irregularity and huge corruption that has characterized the operations of Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry for many years and this was admitted by Mr. President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in his nationwide broadcast of January 15 where he admitted that there are obvious challenges and corruption in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, ‘and pledged to review the legal and regulatory regime for the petroleum industry to address accountability issues and current lapses in the Industry.
“Accordingly, the Minister of Petroleum Recourses, Deziani Alison-Madueke has taken steps to further the assurance of the President by constituting some committees including the PIB Special Task Force Committee, the Sub-Technical Committee, the Special Task force on NNPC and the Petroleum Revenue Task Force – to accelerate reforms in the Nigeria oil & gas industry” adds ANEEJ Deputy Executive Director, Comrade Leo Atakpu.
“In any case, it is important to state that passing the PIB is critical in reforming Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Sector and this should be pursued to its logical conclusion and the ongoing probe by Hon. Farouk Lawal led committee should be concluded and the recommendations implemented to set the pace for the renewal of expired Oil Mining licenses for IOCs,” Atakpu concluded.