Oil and gas companies operating in the country’s petroleum industry on Wednesday received a 10-day extension to review and reconcile the draft 2013 Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative audit report prior to its final approval.
The extension, which would lapse on Friday, December 11, 2015, was announced in Lagos by the acting Executive Secretary of NEITI, Ogbonnanya Orji, at the formal inauguration of the NEITI Companies’ Forum.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Orji said the Forum was organized by NEITI in partnership with the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER), a programme of the Department for International Development (DFID).
He explained that the Forum would provide a platform for extractive industry companies covered by the NEITI process to meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest with regards to implementation of NEITI principles of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries.
Government has the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT), while civil society has the NEITI-civil society steering committee (CSSC) to engage the process.
The NEITI acting head said the Forum would provide a platform for all companies “to discuss, debate, interrogate, advice and engage the EITI process as a key stakeholder to systematize and strengthen NEITI-companies’ relations”.
“The Companies need to take full ownership of the Forum as a unique platform for information sharing, conflict prevention, management and resolution by discussing their roles, opportunities and prospects,” he said.
Mr. Orji explained that the extension of the deadline for the review of the draft audit report would afford the various operators, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the opportunity to correct possible discrepancies in the draft report.
A total of 42 companies in the oil and gas sector, and 87 in the solid minerals industry covered by the NEITI process are members of the Companies’ Forum.
Most of the covered companies, including Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC; ExxonMobil Corporation; Chevron Nigeria; Total Nigeria; Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, and Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, were represented at the inauguration ceremony.
The review and reconciliation of the draft report, Mr. Orji explained, was part of the process of eliminating possible dispute that usually characterised final reports of previous audits since 1999.
He pointed out that the exercise was part of the process by NEITI to prepare for the adoption and signing off of the draft report prior to its presentation to the National Stakeholders Working Group, NSWG (NEITI Board) for final approval and submission to government.
The audit report, which has since been completed has not received the final approval as a result of the delay in the re-constitution of the Board since its dissolution shortly before the exit of former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Meanwhile, NEITI says oil companies have made payments totalling $293 billion to the Nigerian government based on findings of the oil and gas industry audits between 2006 and 2012.
Breakdown of the payments include $44.7 billion in 2006; $43.8billion in 2007; $60.4billion in 2008; $30.2 billion in 2009:$44.95 billion in 2010; $68.4billion in 2011 and $62.9billion in 2012.
In her goodwill message to the newly inaugurated Forum, EITI International Chair, Clare Short, commended NEITI for its achievements and reassured of her continued support to Nigeria in her efforts to meet the standards expected by the global transparency group.
Ms. Short underlined the importance of reconstituting the NEITI board soon to ensure that the next audit reports could be published as soon as possible and further progress made.