19 Jan

Daily Watch – PIB inches closer to life, Works ministry did ‘no capital projects in 2017’

  • Nigeria has moved closer to turning an oil industry bill into law after a 17-year struggle to complete the legislation which aims to increase transparency and stimulate growth in the country’s oil industry. Nigeria’ lower house of parliament has passed a version of the bill which is the same as one approved by the Senate last year. This is the first time both houses have approved the same version of the bill. It still needs the president’s signature to become law. The legislation – known as the Petroleum Industry Bill- was broken up into sections to help to get it through. The House of Representatives passed the first part called the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill on Wednesday. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, a key PIB lawmaker in the House of Representatives, said that “every consideration of the bills is now under the joint committee. We have broken the jinx after 17 years. We are working on the other accompanying bills.” The passage of the first bill means that the government can move forward with new taxation legislation, which could make it more attractive for companies to invest, particularly offshore. The PIGB would create four new entities whose powers would include the ability to conduct bid rounds, award exploration licences and make recommendations to the oil minister on upstream licences.
  • Babatunde Fashola says the works arm of his three-fold portfolio did not carry out any capital project in 2017. Fashola, who heads the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, made this known when he appeared before a Senate committee to defend the ministry’s 2018 budget. He attributed the situation to the late passage of the 2017 budget. “The 2017 budget was passed in June. The procurement law requires a procurement plan which took till September,” he said. Kabiru Gaya, chairman of the committee, then asked for the number of projects that were not procured in 2017 since there was a rollover of 2016 projects. The minister could not respond to the question, adding that even the director of planning in the ministry could not give a definite answer. The committee resolved that the projects which could not be procured in 2017 should be rolled over into the 2018 budget and a report should be presented in a week.
  • Nigeria has filed a claim against JP Morgan Chase for more than $875 million, accusing it of negligence in transferring funds from a disputed 2011 oilfield deal to a company controlled by the country’s former oil minister. A spokeswoman for JP Morgan dismissed the accusation on Thursday, saying the firm “considers the allegations made in the claim to be unsubstantiated and without merit”. The suit filed in British courts relates to a purchase of the offshore OPL 245 oilfield in Nigeria by oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Eni in 2011. At the core of the case is a $1.3 billion payment from Shell and Eni to secure the block that the lawsuit says was deposited into a Nigerian government escrow account managed by JP Morgan. The lawsuit said JP Morgan then received a request from finance ministry workers to transfer more than $800 million of the funds to accounts controlled by the previous operator of the block, Malabu Oil and Gas, itself controlled by former oil minister Dan Etete. The lawsuit said that JP Morgan then transferred the funds to two accounts controlled by Etete, without sufficient due diligence to make sure the money did not leave accounts controlled by the Nigerian government.
  • Lawmakers have ordered an investigation into whether the government could recover $21 billion in revenues from international oil companies. Oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said in December the government had failed to enforce a legal provision entitling it to a greater share of crude sales once the price exceeded $20 a barrel. Members of the House of Representatives voted to set up a committee to look into “the reasons for the loss”, which the minister had estimated at $21 billion. The committee would look into “the possibility of recovering the revenue lost,” according to a statement on parliament’s Twitter account. The committee will ask the minister to provide details of financial transactions between the state oil firm and international oil companies and report back to parliament in six weeks, it added.
  • The ECA stood at $2.317 billion as of January 15, a state governor said on Thursday. The figure was given by the finance minister during a meeting of the country’s national economic council, according to Kano governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who briefed reporters after the meeting. Last month, Nigerian state governors approved the release of $1 billion from the account to the government to fight the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the northeast. In September, the crude account held $2.310 billion.