The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) has given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 14 days ultimatum to appear before it.
Should the NNPC fail to appear, the committee said, it will summon the Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari.
The committee is investigating the revocation and reversal order on the operating licences of OML 123, 124, 126 and 137.
The oil assets have been the subject of dispute between Chinese-owned oil companies and the federal government. The dispute led to the revocation and restoration of the mining licenses by the Buhari administration.
On Thursday, NNPC, Addax Petroleum Exploration Nigeria Ltd, Kaztech Engineering Ltd and Salvic Petroleum Resources Ltd all failed to appear before the committee. However, the Minister of Petroleum (State), Timipriye Sylva, and the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Sarki Auwalu, appeared before the committee.
Myrki Adar (APC, Sokoto), the chairman of the committee, issued the ultimatum and expressed readiness to summon the president if the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, should fail to appear before the panel.
He disclosed that the NNPC sent a letter to the committee that the matter was at the Supreme Court. However, Mr Sylva disputed the claim that the matter was in court.
While issuing the ultimatum, Mr Adar said the panel will not hesitate to summon the president, since he is the petroleum minister.
“Our message to all those that fail to appear before us as invited namely the NNPC, Addax petroleum company limited, Kaztech engineering ltd and Salvic petroleum resources limited.
“We are giving them two weeks from today. We would reschedule this meeting from now to two weeks to appear before this committee and continue our business.
“Unless they want us to invite President Muhammadu Buhari as minister of petroleum. If they do not come, we will not hesitate. Buhari is a minister. He appointed himself, approved by the parliament and he is doing his job. We would invite him. And I know as a law-abiding president he would come. If he comes, Nigerians should know that it is the failure of the NNPC to come that led him to appear before us.”
On April 6, the DPR revoked four oil assets belonging to Addax, now owned by Sinopec, a Chinese State oil company.
A presidential panel headed by a former senator, Magnus Abe, had accused the oil company of “economic wastages.”
The DPR revoked the four Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) citing the inability of the firm to comply with agreed terms.
The assets were re-awarded to two indigenous companies; Kaztec Engineering Limited/Salvic Petroleum Resources Limited (KEL/Salvic) Consortium.
Less than two weeks later, the federal government in a statement by the spokesperson to the President, Garba Shehu, restored the mining right of OMLs 123, 124, 126 and 137 to the NNPC which has a Production Sharing Contract with Addax Petroleum; thus reversing its operations back to Addax.
Last week, a motion to investigate the matter was listed on the Order Paper of the House.
The motion was in the name of Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta). However, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, asked the motion to be stepped down.
The motion was stepped down and not considered by the House.
On Thursday, Mr Sylva said the NNPC wrote a counter-memo against his memo on the Addax assets. He added that he is yet to recognise the restoration order issued by NNPC.
“I wrote a memo to Mr President and it was approved, and NNPC wrote another memo against my memo.
“Having said that, the issue at hand is that no law was breached at all as far as Addax affairs are concerned. I am also not aware of any matter at the Supreme Court on this particular matter. I have just consulted the director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) who also told me that he is not aware.
“The matter of Addax was not commenced by me, this asset has been sub-optimally managed from the beginning of the acquisition to this moment, it has not been optimally operated.
“When Sinopec group acquired this asset from Addax, production was 130,000 barrel per day, as at today, we struggle to produce 35,000 barrel per day, from this asset, because there are no new investments, and the asset has progressively declined. We believe that with the requisite investment, we would have probably taken the asset to beyond 130,000 barrel per day.
“Obviously, there was an issue of mismanagement of the asset. Now, in the wisdom of the attorney general of the federation, he wrote to the president to say that this asset has not been properly managed. The letter was forwarded to me by Mr President for me to review,” he said.
He added that “NNPC is not in a position to withdraw a revocation or advise the withdrawal or revocation.”
President Buhari is the substantive minister for petroleum and has been since 2015. However, back in December 2020, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had said that the National Assembly cannot summon the President.