The federal government has instituted civil actions against multinational oil corporations- Shell, Chevron, Agip and other major oil companies- in a bid to recover over N2 trillion, believed to be proceeds of unremitted crude oil revenue.
The scourge of crude oil theft has plagued the nation since the era of its oil boom, leading to huge losses in revenue for Nigeria.
The unremitted revenue is from over 57 million barrels of crude oil shipments that were either not declared or under-declared between 2011 and 2014.
The lawsuits were filed on Thursday, March 3, at a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos.
The government, in the suits, stated that the decline in crude oil revenue recorded in 2014 ‘necessitated an intelligence based gathering of data, which showed that part of the reasons for the decline in the revenue from crude oil exploration was the undeclaration and/or under-declaration of crude oil shipments’.
According to the civil actions, it was discovered that ‘the crude oil declared to have been exported from Nigeria, was less than what was declared to have been imported into the United States using the same shipment by the same vessel on the same bill of lading’.
While Agip Oil was said to have carried out the sharp practice using two vessels- VALUE and COSMIC, Chevron used three vessels- TRIATHLON, POETIC and OLYMPIC FLAG.
The federal government is accusing the oil firms of illegally shipping 57 million barrels of crude oil and subsequently, selling to buyers in the United States alone, between January 2011- December 2014.
Information exclusively obtained by YNaija revealed that a group of lawyers including Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, Selekeowei Larry, SAN, Wilson Ajuwa and Audu Anuga, have commenced civil actions against the said oil companies on behalf of the federal government.
The federal government is requesting the court to compel the companies to remit $51,033,180, $462, 681,780, and $145, 848, 551 being the value of the missing payments accrued to the government from the shady crude oil shipments made by the companies.
YNaija also gathered that the oil companies carry out crude oil theft in the form of accounting fraud, non-declaration or under declaration of precise quantity of crude oil shipment.
In some instances, an oil tanker that is recorded to be loaded with about 50,000 barrels at Nigeria’s port would on arrival at a port in the US, be recorded to have discharged over 60,000 barrels of crude oil.
The lawyers representing the government revealed that the missing revenue accrued to Nigeria from the illegal shipments made between 2011 and 2014 to buyers in the US alone is worth a total of $12,722,600,327.
At the current official exchange rate, the said amount would be worth N2,493,629,664,092.
Prior to the filing of the suits, series of investigations had been carried out by a consortium of experts comprising of Nigerian and American lawyers.
Also, foreign and local technical experts were engaged by the Federal Government for the satellite-based tracking of the global movements of vessels carrying the country’s hydrocarbons.
These investigations led to the identification of companies involved in the fraudulent practice, which resulted in the missing revenue from crude oil and gas export from Nigeria to the other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been provided with crucial data and is now making preparations to push for massive recoveries from the affected companies.
The case is yet to be assigned to a judge.