Exclusive: Nigeria loses billions in cut price oil deals - report
By Joe Brock
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria lost out on tens of billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues over the last decade from cut price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials, a confidential report seen by Reuters says.
A team headed by the former head of the anti-corruption agency Nuhu Ribadu produced the 146-page study on an oil ministry request. It covers the year 2002 to the present.
Nigeria is Africa's largest crude oil exporter, shipping more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd), and is also home to the world's ninth biggest gas reserves and one of its largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals.
The report provides new details on Nigeria's long history of corruption in the oil sector, which has enriched its elite and provided the oil majors with hefty profits while two thirds of people live in poverty.
Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke told Reuters on Tuesday she had received the report last month but that it was a draft and the government was still supposed to give input. The one seen by Reuters was labeled "Final Report."
The report concluded that oil majors Shell, Total and Eni made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while Nigerian oil ministers handed out licenses at their own discretion. This, while not illegal, did not follow best practice of using open bids. Hundreds of millions of dollars in signature bonuses on those deals were also missing, it said.
"We have not seen this report and are, therefore, unable to comment on the content, but we will study it if and when it is published," a Shell spokesman said.
The report alleges international oil traders sometimes buy crude without any formal contracts, and the state oil firm had short-changed the Nigerian treasury billions over the last 10 years by selling crude oil and gas to itself below market rates. Continued...