Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, has said no Nigerian has the information about the exact volume of crude oil produced in the country. Dr. Orji, who made this known yesterday in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Dr. Mansur Liman, explained that this was due to the absence of meters at well heads, but most especially the lack of capacity to monitor deep offshore fields to know the exact amount of crude oil they produce. According to him, NEITI has consistently recommended meters be placed on oil wellheads to measure the volume of crude oil produced in the country, in all its oil and gas audit reports.
He said: “We do not have the capacity to go deep shores to know how much we are producing. As we speak, it is very difficult for any Nigerian to ascertain how much actually we are producing. “This is one of the challenges that NEITI is dealing with because if you do not know how much you are producing, how would you know how much you are expected to earn? “Because the companies that go deepshore that are involved in offshore exploration, none of them are indigenous Nigerian companies and they cannot really protect the interest of the country as much as Nigerians can.
“But we must concede to those companies, they are doing a great job here because, without them, there will be no oil industry.” He further noted that the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was because those who benefit from the outdated oil law governing the sector were resisting reforms in the sector.
“The only law that governs the oil and gas industry in Nigeria currently is the Petroleum Act of 1969. And if you use this law in computations of taxes and royalties based on a very old rate, Nigeria loses a lot of revenue,” he noted. He said NEITI had helped in drawing attention to this, noting that the industry had been operated through regulations, guidelines and pronouncements with no new law since 1969.
He warned that Nigeria’s failure to update its laws in the sector meant that when prices go up, the country would be unable to derive maximum benefit from the situation, adding that the international oil companies do not have interest in updating the laws because it currently favours them. In his response, Dr. Liman assured the NEITI boss of the support of the corporation, saying it was important that the media support the reform of the sector to ensure that Nigeria benefits more from the sector.