SAN FRANCISCO, January 31, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives has revealed that it would begin the process of revocation of oil bloc licenses issued without due process.
This was disclosed on Tuesday at the on-going investigative public hearing into the status of several Oil Prospecting Licences (OPL) and Oil Mining Leases (OML) and marginal oil fields where it was revealed that some oil and gas companies were operating in defiance of the law and have variously defaulted in the payment of requisite fees to the Federal government.
The Committee, chaired by Gideon Gwani (PDP, Kaduna) expressed disappointment at the response of some oil gas companies that failed to present presidential approvals for their licenses and failed to provide satisfactory responses to issues of licence approval and payment of royalty to the Federal government.
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) also compounded the issue by informing the Committee that it has no records in its system of Presidential approvals for some of the licences that were granted through discretionary powers of the Petroleum Resources Minister saying it does not have the Presidential approval for some licenses in its system.
As a result, the Committee said the ownership of all the affected companies must be produced by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and declared that it will recommend for the revocation of licences of all oil companies found culpable of defaulting in payment of oil fees to the government.
“It is the duty of the Committee to unearth procedural inefficiencies in the award of the licenses, adding that presentation of documentary evidence for the discretionary awards is critical to the investigation,” Gwani said.
“Those who failed due process and whose licences to operate came through processes other than those prescribed by the law, we will recommend that such license be revoked, relinquished and thrown back into the basket for Nigerians to bid for properly.
“In the course of this investigation, we found out, even today that a company refused to pay royalty for the whole of 2016. This is a fee that is supposed to the paid monthly.
“As such, it is important that DPR begins to enforce the Act since it is clear that any company that failed to do business in accordance with the Act, not paying the requisite fees, as and when due, that company’s licences be relinquished and the bloc taken away.
“We are looking at the process by which these licences were acquired because we found out that the process might have been abused. It could be that someone in government was doing business with the issuance of these licenses to themselves and their cronies by manipulating Presidential assent.
“We found out that languages that were not presidential were used in some of these letters of award. That has given the Committee an idea of how things were manipulated and that is why we want to take it further by finding out the owners of these companies from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“This Committee is determined to expose any oil company that did not get its license right and we will recommend it for revocation. Revocation of such licences would even be good for the country as it will provide the opportunity for our Niger Delta oil and gas investors to partake in the new bidding process.
“Personally, my believe is that if we have more Niger Delta investors in the sector, then agitation and vandalization of oil asset would be reduced knowing that they have a greater stake in the sector.”