By Celestine Ajayi
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Tuesday insisted that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) was still using estimates to forecast the quantity of oil produced in the country daily.
The Executive Secretary of the organisation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji, made this shocking disclosure when he received the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, in his Abuja office.
Recall that DPR Director, Mr. Sarki Auwalu, had dismissed NEITI’s claim that the country cannot tell how much oil it produces, stating that the agency has developed an application which is deployed in getting the figures daily.
But Orji stated that many oil-producing nations have moved beyond estimates to actual data of daily oil produced, through the use of metering.
He added that that NEITI would continue to work with DPR to ensure that all areas of disagreement are resolved and that the federal government gets all its accruals.
He said: “There’s still a gap in our operation. A few days ago, NEITI made a statement that not many Nigerians can attest that we know how much oil we produce. This is a statement of fact and we still stand by it.
“The issue here is not that we do not have estimates. The issue is that from the work we have done, we have recommended metering infrastructure. The argument is that we need to know empirically and statistically what we are producing.
“From the point of production to the point of refining, a lot of water passes under the bridge, there are product losses due to outright stealing, a lot of pipeline vandalism and many processes lapses.”
Orji said the DPR’s response that it had an idea or that it had an app to forecast and project the figures, was not the issue NEITI raised, but the exact number of barrels produced.
“But we are saying the same thing. Projection and forecasting is not an accurate measurement. Forecasts can be wrong or right, but what I appreciate in their response is that at least they are thinking in that direction by developing an app,” he added.
He pledged to work with the DPR to make it understand exactly what he meant when it made the statement, because NEITI has seen technology in action in the way and manner countries monitor production from the scratch up to the point of sale in the international market.
He added that the infrastructure has been demonstrated elsewhere outside the country.
“It’s not child’s play. We will work with the DPR, which is a key agency covered by our process to boost that sector, developing a uniform approach to cost determination, so that the royalties and taxes are clear to us and to reduce to the barest minimum questionable decisions and use of discretion to make decisions that cause the government to lose revenues,” he said.
In his comments, Idris said his visit attested to the importance that his office attached to the NEITI’s tasks, especially in terms of revenue generation, blocking leakages and curbing the menace of corruption.
He promised to revamp the Inter-ministerial Task Team (IMTT), headed by his office and comprising 16 government organisations, where among others, the development of a comprehensive remediation plan on findings and recommendations in NEITI reports are discussed.
The IMTT also ensures the implementation of the plan using NEITI reports, providing regular feedback to NEITI multi-stakeholders working group (NEITI board) on implementation status and identifying risks and opportunities associated with implementation as they affect all agencies covered by NEITI reports.