…..ready for forensic audit
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Thursday dismissed the rumour that 48 million barrels of crude oil were missing, and challenged the Senate to go ahead with the forensic audit on the claim at its own cost, if it so wished.
The issues of missing barrels of crude oil and non-approval of yearly budget of the corporation came up during an interactive session officials of NNPC had with the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning on projected revenues estimated in the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola had demanded for proven evidence and not verbal denial as done by NNPC through media advertorials.
But the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, represented by the Chief Finance Officer, Umar Ajiya, in his response, said there was no evidence in knocking out the claim than the fact that there were no records of ships that sailed out of the Nigerian waters with such contrabands and clearance from the Nigerian Navy and the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
“No ship leaves the country without clearance from the appropriate unit of the Nigerian Navy, and there is no way any ship with such alleged stolen crude could escape from the Nigerian shore.
“As far as the NNPC is concerned, no barrel of crude oil is missing as falsely alleged and we are very ready to be investigated over it in the form of commissioning a forensic audit by the National Assembly at its own cost,” the corporation said.
Ajiya insisted that the yearly budget of the corporation is scrutinised and approved by the lawmakers through consideration and passage of the MTEF and FSP which contain revenue projections of the agency, among other ones.
“Proposals such as our revenue projections, cost of operations are well stated in all MTEF/FSP documents made available to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, the basis upon which the nation’s budget is passed and signed into law, meaning that it is you (National Assembly) that approves our yearly budget,” he maintained.
The CFO explained further that the $21per barrel production cost the corporation was incurring on each barrel of crude oil would soon be reduced to $13 per barrel in an effort to drastically minimise production cost.
On the $40 per barrel projected as oil price benchmark for the N12.6trillion 2021 budget, the NNPC official said the projection was arrived at, based on available variables .
“Nobody can determine what oil price will be tomorrow, which informs pessimistic thinking as far as such a parameter is concerned,” he said.