Nigeria’s House of Representatives is set to investigate the country’s loss of $27 billion oil revenue to International Oil Companies (IOCs) since 1999.
The development followed the lawmakers’ passage for the second reading, the Bill for an Act to Amend the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, CAP D3 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, to Review the Share of the Government of the Federation in the Additional Revenue Under the Production Sharing Contracts.
The existing Act authorising the sharing formula, stipulates that the IOCs are to drill crude and sell with the proceeds shared between them and the Federal Government on a 60/40 basis at $20 per barrel of crude.
The Rep members frowned that the companies have been keeping whatever excess revenue they generated from the increase in the price of crude and share based on $20 agreement not minding the current existing market price.
Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Idris Wase, who led the debate, urged the lawmakers to support the bill.
But, citing Order 12 Sub-Rule 3, Rep Uzoma Nkem-Abonta from Abia State said he and other lawmakers did not have the hard copies of the bill to allow them debate it adequately.
He was supported by Nicholas Ossai, from Delta State, who asked for the suspension of the second reading pending the availability of the copies of the bill to members.
However, the Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yussuf, prayed Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker who was presiding, to allow the debate to go on.
He meanwhile appealed for more legislative days to be set aside for the debate in order to give members enough time to exhaust their thoughts on the issue.
Noting that as an engineer who started his career in the oil sector, Lasun said he knew well that the Federal Government had little control over deep offshore oil exploration.
“The way things stand, we may end up being pushed out of the sharing formula in the future because the IOCs own the expertise and the funds, and they can even decide to apply international laws to claim the locations of the deep offshore wells.
“Like the Deputy Leader said, in order to encourage investment in the section of the industry, the government allowed the existing sharing formula because investment in that area is heavy. But should that be our approach to investment?” he said.