The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), an agency tasked with cleaning up the country’s oil industry, has said even though financial accountability has improved, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) still has not explained billions of dollars of missing revenue.
While energy producers had cooperated and complied with requirements to publish payments, NEITI had struggled with the NNPC, the Executive Secretary of the agency, Waziri Adio, was quoted by Bloomberg to have said in a March 7 interview in Abuja.
He said the state oil company had not explained what it did with at least $22.7bn earned from the sale of oil licences and in dividends from its stake in Nigeria LNG Limited over a 15-year period.
“The sector is no longer the black hole that it once was, but we can still use more transparency. Things are opening up. There could be more in the area of contracts, ownership and expenditure transparency, but definitely, there is some progress,” Adio stated.
The NNPC had said in the past that it had the authority of the government for its actions.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ExxonMobil Corporation, Chevron Corporation, Total and Eni operate joint ventures with the NNPC accounting for about 90 per cent of the output of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who pledged during his 2015 election campaign to fight widespread graft in the oil and gas industry, appointed Adio in February 2016 to head NEITI.
For all its work in auditing oil industry payments, critics say the agency remains toothless, lacking the power to compel companies to disclose payments or penalise errant producers.
NEITI’s annual audits had helped the government to recover billions of dollars that would have been lost, Adio added.
The NEITI law “does not give us the power to compel compliance or to enforce our recommendations,” he said. “But we have done our reports, with findings and recommendations, and we have shared them with the government.”
So far, the agency has produced reports covering the years from 1999 to 2015 and is working on those for 2016 and 2017, which are scheduled for public presentation in July and November. Before the end of this year, NEITI plans “to automate our data collection process and be able to provide real-time data and real-time analysis,” Adio noted.
NEITI was set up in 2004 after Nigeria acceded to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which requires international energy companies and governments involved in mining to publish all their payments.
The NLNG is owned 49 per cent by the NNPC; 25.6 per cent by Shell; 15 per cent by Total and 10.4 per cent by Eni.