Oil firms get two weeks ultimatum to remit $250m

…Lampoons DPR over regulatory failure

By Adewale Sanyolu

The House of Representatives Committee on Oil and Gas, yesterday gave 10 indigenous oil companies a two week ultimatum to remit $250 million oil royalty to the coffers of the Federal Government or be ready to face the full wrath of the law.

Some of the companies alleged to have been involved in the infraction include; Aiteo Group, Dubri Oil Limited, Atlas Energy, Oriental Energy Limited, Express Petroleum, WalterSmith Oil Limited and Neconde Group.

Chairman of the Committee, Jerigbe Agom, said at its ongoing sitting on the probe of unremitted funds in the oil and gas industry to government coffers, that Nigeria can no longer condone illegal conduct of the operators which are capable of strangulating the sector.

He said his committee would have no choice than to wield the big stick on companies that fail to meet the deadline as part of its mandate to ensure sanity in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

In the same vein, members of the committee lampooned the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR) for not being proactive enough to ensure that indigenous oil companies comply with extant rules in the oil and gas sector.

They queried the lackadaisical attitude of the agency for failing to sanction erring oil firms, wondering they have failed to pay their royalties when evidence abound that they owed the Federal Government so much.

They also accused gas companies in the country of not revealing the accurate figures of the quantity of gas produced and flared.

And to put a stop to the anomaly, the lawmakers resolved to pay on-site visit to the gas companies at a later date to crosscheck claims of their gas production and flare.

Some of the the Managing Directors of the companies complained that they got invitation to the committee’s sitting late.

They also complained of the harsh business environment which included high cost of production and interest charges which also explains why owners of marginal fields in the country cannot operate same.

According to them, they said the Federal government should have considered them for pioneer status with a view to boosting their business and opening the nation’s oil and gas sector for investment prospects .

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