The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has refuted media reports alleging that 48 million barrels of crude were secretly shipped and sold in China and the accruing revenue shared by senior presidency, NNPC officials and other influential persons within the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Over the past few weeks, media reports, (especially on Social media) had continued to insist that some poerful individuals sold 48 million barrels of crude oil to China in 2015. The said deal was allegedly exposed by a whistle-blower whose life was threatened after giving information that led to the recovery of the crude oil.
However, Afe Babalola, counsel to NNPC, the oil firm had weighed in on the matter and announced that it is impossible for the country to ship 48 million barrels of crude oil from Nigeria to China illegally.
According to the legal luminary, a blackmailer is doing all within his/her power to extort money from the NNPC.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.
“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 Oil or any stolen Nigerian Crude Oil in any port, terminal or storage facility in China.”
Babalola said SAMANO failed to show that it followed “due process” in the information that allegedly led to the recovery of stolen crude oil.
Crude oil theft has remained a major problem in the Niger Delta region. Industry sources opine that tens of millions of crude oil are shipped off illegally from the region to the international market where they are sold mostly to rogue elements in the West.