The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has debunked media report that it colluded with government officials to sell 48 million barrels of stolen crude oil and also threatened whistle-blower.
A statement by Afe Babalola, counsel to the NNPC, yesterday, urged the public to disregard the publications, allegedly sponsored by SAMANO, saying it was diversionary and in furtherance of its scheme to fleece Nigeria.
“SAMANO’s attempt to shift attention from the on-going criminal charges against its Managing Director and agents will not fly. NNPC has instructed Counsel to take appropriate legal actions against SAMANO and its officers for the injury done to the Corporation and its officials by the falsehoods peddled by SAMANO and its agents.”
The statement read in part: The management of the corporation states emphatically that these publications are replete with falsehoods, offensive, gold-digging and a calculated attempt by the said SAMANO SA DE CV (SAMANO) working in concert with its local and international agents to intimidate, blackmail and extort money from the Federal Government of Nigeria and NNPC. Given the attention which these publications have generated, NNPC deems it necessary to make the following clarifications:
“SAMANO first contacted officials of the Federal Government of Nigeria sometime in 2015 indicating that it had been approached by an unnamed group in the People’s Republic of China to buy 48 Million Barrels of Nigerian Crude Oil which they believed to have been stolen from Nigeria. According to SAMANO, this crude had been stolen and shipped to China before the inception of President Buhari’s administration in 2015.
“SAMANO requested that it be allowed to purchase the stolen crude after its recovery by the Federal Government.
“Shortly thereafter, SAMANO indicated that it was not interested in buying the said stolen crude as it only obliged the Federal Government with the information to assist the President Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption.
“The Federal Government and NNPC receive hundreds of spurious claims of this nature daily, and they always turn out to be false.
“NNPC also believed that based on the operations and state of the international crude oil market in 2015, it was impossible to ship 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil from Nigeria to China without any record or trace of same.
“For context, as of 2015, the daily production of crude oil in Nigeria was below 1.6 million barrels. Therefore, 48 million barrels of crude oil would have been the total production capacity of the country for a whole month. It was and remains simply impossible for one-month crude oil production for the entire country to disappear without any record or trace from the shores of the country.
“NNPC was also aware that as at the material time and considering the fact that the People’s Republic of China is one of the most regulated economies in the world, the export of Crude Oil from Nigeria to China was exclusively undertaken by four known companies approved by, under the control, ownership, and management of the Chinese Government. It would, therefore, have been impossible to transport 48 Million Barrels of Crude Oil from Nigeria to China without the active involvement of the said companies. Again, from an economic perspective, it made little sense that anyone would store that volume of Crude Oil in China for such a considerable period having regard to the attendant significant storage costs. It is noteworthy that the Chinese Government had, through its officials, stated emphatically in response to this allegation at different fora including the United Nations General Assembly that there was NO stolen Nigerian Crude Oil stored in any port or terminal or storage facility in China.
“Despite these reservations and in view of the fact that transparency, accountability, the fight against corruption and the recovery of the country’s looted resources have been integral components of State policy under the administration of his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Government of Nigeria set up the Presidential Committee on Recovery of Stolen Nigerian Crude Oil in response to the claims made by several companies including SAMANO over alleged stolen Nigerian Crude Oil stored in China.
“The said Presidential Committee requested that SAMANO furnish it with evidence in proof of its allegations to enable it to investigate and verify its claim. Still, SAMANO refused, neglected or failed to provide the Committee with any cogent and verifiable evidence in support of its allegations.
“Notwithstanding the failure of SAMANO to produce verifiable evidence in support of its allegations, for completeness, relevant officials were mandated to pay an in-person visit to China and further investigate SAMANO’s claim.
During this fact-finding trip to China, it was discovered that SAMANO’s claim was false as there were no 48 million barrels of stolen Nigerian crude cil or any stolen Nigerian crude oil in any port, terminal or storage facility in China.