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Oil deals: Traders may sue Swiss NGO


News » Editorials
Nigeria

Nov.19.2013

 

Oil traders accused of shady deals in Nigeria’s crude sales by a Swiss-based Non- Government Organisation, the Berne Declaration, may have approached their lawyers on the possibilities of seeking redress for what they described as “libelous publication” by the NGO.

Sources privy to the move hinted that “The Swiss-based researchers from a distance published what can be likened to a ‘beer parlor gist’ on Nigeria oil and gas sector based on their vague understanding of the unique Nigerian business environment. This explains why they hurriedly lifted unverified figures from equally disputed sources like the Ribadu and Farouk reports, but we are determined to teach them some legal lessons,” the source intoned.

The Berne Declaration had alleged that some local and international oil traders were colluding with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to defraud the country of billions of dollars, thus sparking off enquiries into the country’s crude oil sales.

Irked by the insinuations contained in the report, the oil traders were said to be rallying to file legal action against the group, whose report is believed to be rooted in conjectures and unverified statistics.

The report, titled: “Swiss Traders’ Opaque Deals in Nigeria,” has been criticised by some industry players who flayed the NGO for its poor showing and understanding of the operating environment in the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

It was gathered that the consortium of local and international oil traders mentioned in the report have opened consultation with a United Kingdom, UK- based international law firm with a view to seeking judicial redress for the libelous publication. Sources close to the oil traders argued that the Berne Declaration literally “plagiarised” the controversial Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force draft report, as well as the now discredited Farouk Lawal-led Committee report on subsidy, which it relied on to reach its conclusions.

Furthermore, they argued that the deliberate description of specific businesses and individuals that have not been found guilty of any offense in any court of law as fraudsters, may work against the organisation in the Swiss Court.

“Such vilifying and unprofessional conducts are frowned at by laws around the world especially in Switzerland,” they added.

NNPC rebuttal

Recall that the NNPC had refuted the contents of the publication in its entirety, describing it as mere phantom.

The Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Ms. Tumini Green, had described the publication as not only bogus, but also strewn with inaccurate and poorly researched data, which defied common sense and verifiable evidence in Nigeria.

“For instance, how can anybody who claims to be a close observer of the Nigerian oil and gas industry say that the process leading to the award of Term Contract for the lifting of Nigeria’s crude is shrouded in mystery? It is a common knowledge that the call for tender for this contract is periodically published by almost all the newspapers in Nigeria via paid advert placements by the NNPC,” Green noted. She explained that in practice the Corporation sells Nigerian government equity crude oil to lifters/traders engaged on Annual Term Contract basis, adding that at present there are about 50 such term contracts.

“No company has a monopoly or exclusive right to lift any quantity of Nigerian crude oil. The process of selection of traders/lifters is competitive and transparent. Traders lift crude oil according to the terms of contractual agreements applicable to all traders, among others on (Free on Board) FOB basis and proceeds paid directly into designated Central Bank of Nigeria crude oil sales accounts,” she further said.

On the allegation that Nigeria’s crude is sold to some companies at special discounted rate, Green countered: “Nigeria crude oil is sold at published Official Selling Price (OSP). This is not only bench-marked against the internationally recognised pricing institution, Platts daily publications, but also fixed after a critical analysis of market fundamentals and price determinants at global level. The OSP differentials are determined crude stream and cannot favour an individual or group of traders as being insinuated,” she explained.

- See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/11/oil-deals-traders-may-sue-swiss-ngo/#sthash.easgyA90.dpuf

Article Credit: Vanguard Newspapper

Updated 5 Years ago
 

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