The prevalent corruption in the oil and gas industry is one reason why the country is going through dire economic conditions right now. According to Sun News, Honorable Johnson Agbonayinma of the Egor/Ikpoba-okha constituency in the House of Representatives alleged last month that $17 billion in oil and liquefied natural gas was exported from Nigeria without being properly declared between 2011 and 2014, when Goodluck Jonathan was still ruling. This was latest allegation of multibillion-dollar graft directed at Nigeria’s oil industry. This corruption has led to oil production falling to around 1.5 million barrels per-day from its normal level of over two million barrels. This led to the economic recession in the second quarter of this year. Also the federal government believes that international oil companies are at least partially responsible for the missing money under Goodluck Jonathan.
This is why, in a series of lawsuits filed earlier this year, Nigeria claimed several oil majors, including American firm Chevron and Italy’s Eni, didn’t declare $12.7 billion worth of crude and natural gas exports. According to Dolapo Oni, head of energy research at Ecobank, Nigeria doesn’t measure its oil production based on how much individual oil wells produce, but rather how much oil leaves through its export terminals. That approach is vulnerable to easy manipulation and therefore a loophole for corruption. Oni explained that if pipelines and wellheads had meters, regulators would be better able to track where Nigeria’s oil is going, and figure out exactly how much oil the country produces. “That’s part of where the corruption in industry is, because once the metering is done, there’ll be no more gaps or loopholes, if we had efficient metering, there’s no way either party would be lying,” Oni said. Speaking on the current state of the economy, Oni concluded: “The government is just broke and willing to go through every transaction in the oil and gas business to make sure that if there’s any money that they didn’t earn, they can get it now.”
Dauda Garuba, the Nigerian Officer at the Natural Resource Governance Institute says oil companies have rejected calls to put meters on oil infrastructure, saying it would be too expensive. The Petroleum Industry Bill would reform Nigeria’s oil sector but has languished in the national assembly for years. One of those reforms could be to mandate metering on all segments of the oil supply chain, Garuba said. Garuba said of Nigeria’s lawmakers: “For me, I think they’ve been sleeping on their rights and their responsibility forever, it’s also getting worrisome that each time you hear of scandals like this, nothing gets to come of it.” Meanwhile, Senator Jeremiah Useni has called for President Buhari to kill all those guilty of corruption. He said this during his Independence Day address. He said: “Public officers stole a lot of money. As far as I am concerned, such people need to be dealt with the very way Jerry Rawlings did in Ghana. “We must support what President Buhari is doing. We must recover stolen funds.” Rawling who seized power in 1997 through a coup carried out what he termed “house-cleaning” when former government officials suspected of corrupt practises were killed. “More than 300 Ghanaians were either killed or disappeared during his revolutionary approach which some have criticised as being too strict and undemocratic.”