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Nigeria state oil company has not explained missing billions

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Bloomberg are reporting that an agency tasked with cleaning up Nigeria’s murky oil industry says even though financial accountability has improved, the state oil company still has not explained billions of dollars of missing revenue.

While energy producers have cooperated and complied with requirements to publish payments, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has struggled with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., Waziri Adio, executive secretary of the agency known as Neiti, said in a 7 March interview in Abuja, the capital. The state oil company has not explained what it did with at least US$22.7 billion earned from the sale of oil licenses and in dividends from its stake in Nigeria LNG Ltd. over a 15-year period, he said.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA operate joint ventures with the state oil company that account for approximately 90% of the output of Nigeria, Africa’s top producer. 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.

Nigeria LNG is owned 49% by NNPC, 25.6% by Shell, 15% by Total and 10.4% by Eni.

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 erring producers. Neiti’s annual audits have helped the government recover billions of dollars that would have been lost, Adio said.

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.

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