Nigeria oil company to account for lack of $49.8 billion in government payments


Nigeria oil company to account for lack of $49.8 billion in government payments  


ABUJA, Nigeria (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria will be able to fully account for the $49.8 billion that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. is alleged to have failed to pay to the government, the state oil company said.

The oil company and the ministries of finance and petroleum have already accounted for $39 billion and are working on reconciling the rest, NNPC spokesman Omar Farouk Ibrahim said in a statement emailed from the capital, Abuja, late yesterday. The outstanding money is largely made up of the value of oil stolen by thieves, the cost of pipeline repairs, spending to maintain strategic reserves of oil products, and unpaid subsidies on kerosene and motor vehicle fuel, he said.

Central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi said last month he had written to President Goodluck Jonathan to ask for a probe of the country’s oil accounts, after newspapers reported that he said in his letter that $49.8 billion was unaccounted for.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, pumps about 1.9 million bopd, the seventh highest output among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The government relies on crude for about 80% of its income.

In a joint press conference with Sanusi and Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke on Dec. 18, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said “misconceptions and misunderstandings” had led to the accusation of $49.8 billion unaccounted for.

At the same event, Sanusi said at there was a shortfall of $12 billion that was the subject of “an ongoing discussion with the finance and petroleum ministries.”

Sanusi’s letter to Jonathan was leaked in the same month that former President Olusegun Obasanjo criticized him in a missive of causing ethnic divisions and failing to tackle corruption.

The two letters intensified the pressure on Jonathan from within his own party. Jonathan, 56, has not yet said whether he intends to stand for a second term in elections due in 2015.

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