The Senate adhoc committee investigating the local content element on Total Upstream Nigeria Limited’s $16 billion Egina Deep Sea Oil Project and other related projects, has uncovered yet another unutilized $400million proceed from sale of gas in a similar Bonga Deep Sea Oil Project.
This came to light when Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) requested to know from Mr. Roland Ebuware, the Group General Manager of NAPIMS, who represented the NNPC Group Managing Director Mr. Maikanti Baru, the fate of gas fallout of the 200,000 barrel per day Egina Oil project.
Mr. Ebuware said no agreement was in place on what to do with the proceed of the gas from the project which is to be piped to Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company other than putting it in an escrow account, adding that a similar ongoing project, the Bonga Deep Sea Oil Project already have $400million in an escrow account waiting for a detailed agreement on sharing formula between the Nigerian Government and the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
He regretted that, since no agreement is in place for such sharing the fund is just lying idle just as he expected that similar proceeds from Egina will lie idle until an agreement on sharing formula is arrived at, adding that the Senate can come in through legislation or other instruments to ensure that such huge funds are utilized for developmental purposes.
Senator Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North West), who is the vice chairman of the Committee, expressed the collective shock of all members of the committee that such huge funds has been un-utilized for developmental purposes due to lack of agreement, stressing that in an era of serious budget deficits, year in year out, such funds should have come handy in north east development, the second Niger bridge and even payment of the monthly N5,000 benefits promised by the federal government to unemployed youths.
In his contribution, Engineer Simbi Wabote, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), stated that in execution of the Egina projects there are infractions of the Local Content Act sometimes occasioned by exigencies of lack of capacity as well as infringement of expatriate quota, adding that it is often difficult to enforce some provisions of the law as conviction through litigation process has to take place before enforcement.
He, therefore, suggested a need to amend the Local Content Act for sanctions for breaches without the long drawn litigation process adding that he will forward the various infractions to the committee as a guide in possible amendment of the law.
Senator Adeola reiterated the need for a holistic amendment of the Local Content Act of 2010 in light of the various discoveries of the committee if the Act is to achieve its aims of allowing Nigeria to benefit from the Oil and Gas industry and prevent leakages of foreign currency, adding that such amendment will also include broadening the law to include manufacturing, ICT and construction industries.