A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, dismissed a 55 million dollars debt recovery suit filed by the Federal Government of Nigeria against Agip Oil Company Ltd, over insufficient evidence.
The suit was filed in 2016 by FG counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, seeking to recover almost 12 billion dollars in missing crude oil revenue from some international oil companies.
The plaintiff is claiming the sum of 55 million dollars against Agip, representing a shortfall in the amount of excess crude oil lifted out of Nigeria, onboard the vessel MT Cosmos.
Delivering judgment on Wednesday, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, first gave a highlight of the facts of the case as stated in the plaintiff’s claim, and also the various arguments as canvassed by parties in support of their respective cases.
Reiterating to the reliefs sought by parties, the court posed a pertinent question “Has the plaintiff succeeded in proving its case to entitle it to a grant of the reliefs sought,”?
In answer, the court held that it is trite and settled law, that he who asserts must prove, adding that although allegations were made, the plaintiff failed to establish same on a preponderance of evidence.
“The burden of proof starts with the plaintiff and keeps shifting until all the required evidence is placed before the court.
“Exhibit DA 10 shows that MT Cosmos was nominated to ship 949,096 barrels of crude oil and exhibit DC 10 from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, shows the barrel of crude oil as 949,096 barrels from MT Cosmos.
“The plaintiff cited the same bill of lading number, but I have no reason to suggest that the bill of lading covers the excess 500,000 barrels of crude oil.
“While I do not have any evidence to suggest that it is impossible for the defendant to carry undeclared crude oil from Nigeria, I have no evidence to show that MT Cosmos carried the excess 500,000 barrels of crude oil with same bill of lading,” she held
The court held that the plaintiff failed to prove its case by supplying the requisite evidences, adding that the main purpose of final addresses is to assist the court .
“It is trite law that whoever asserts, must prove that the facts exists; no amount of brilliant address can make up for a lack of evidence.
“The plaintiff failed to make out a case that 500,000 barrels of crude oil was offloaded in Pennsylvania; the case of the plaintiff fails on the lack of proof on the preponderance of evidence.
“At this stage, I do not find it necessary to proceed with the evaluation of the other reliefs .
” I, therefore, proceed to make an order dismissing this suit; it is hereby dismissed,” the court held.
Meanwhile, the plaintiff has indicated its intention to take the case through the due process of the law.
Speaking to newsmen, afterwards, plaintiff counsel, Ajogwu, said “The Federal Government shall be taking the case through the due process of the law,”
NNN reports that during trial, the plaintiff called one witness and tendered three exhibits before the court, while the defendant also called one witness and tendered 12 exhibits.
FG accused Agip of under-declaring the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.
Government claims that Agip short-changed it to the tune of 55million dollars.
The federal Government filed the suit, to recover the lost revenues arising from undeclared and under-declared crude oil shipments from Nigeria to different parts of the world.
The plaintiff had therefore, prayed the court to compel the oil firm to pay the said sum, with an annual interest rate of 21 per cent
Meanwhile, the court also dismissed a similar suit against Brasoil, seeking to recover the sum of 4.8million dollars in missing oil revenue.
NNN reports that the federal government had also sued Total E&P Nig. Plc, alleging that the oil company under-declared the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.
Government accused the oil company of short-changing it to the tune of 245 million dollars, by allegedly shipping several barrels of crude oil out of Nigeria, without making due remittance to the government.
Similar suits are also pending against Chevron Nigeria Ltd, Chevron Petroleum Nigeria Ltd, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd among others.
United States crude oil inventories decrease last week: EIA
U.S. crude oil inventories decreased during the week ending May 29, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday.
According to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 2.1 million barrels from the previous week.
According to the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels last week and were about 10 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Finished gasoline and blending components inventories both increased last week.
Distillate fuel inventories increased by 9.9 million barrels last week and were about 28 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.
Propane/propylene inventories increased by 3.1 million barrels last week and were about 12 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased last week by 15.1 million barrels last week.
United States crude oil refinery inputs increase last week: EIA
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs increased during the week ending May 29, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 13.3 million barrels per day (b/d) last week, 316,000 b/d more than the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 71.8 percent of their operable capacity last week.
Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 7.8 million b/d. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.7 million b/d.
Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 16.1 million b/d, down by 19.4 percent from the same period last year.
Over the past four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied averaged 7.2 million b/d, down by 22.5 percent from the same period last year.
Distillate fuel product supplied averaged 3.4 million b/d over the past four weeks, down by 13.4 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied was down 68.7 percent compared with the same four-week period last year.
Senate raises concern over high cost of crude oil production in Nigeria
It said despite the high cost of producing crude oil, Nigeria was not getting much in return on its investment in crude oil production.
Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, made the observation at an interactive session on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP) with officers of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
Other agencies of government in attendance at the meeting inlcuded revenue generating agencies such as, NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) among others.
Adeola said: “I want you to take us through why Nigeria’s cost of production per barrel of crude oil is the most expensive in the world.
“Give us the breakdown of what constitutes those costs into variables and the technical cost.
“We want to know what you are doing as an agency of government to bring down this cost,” he said.
He said the committee was interested in ascertaining other costs of crude production in terms of administrative cost.
“Who determines this cost, with the benchmark of 25 dollars as proposed, Nigeria is just going to have just three dollars as its own return on investment.
“The oil revenue and the mineral revenue as proposed in the MTEF has dropped from almost N8.86 trillion to N3.33 trillion, are you saying that it is worthwhile investment for us as a nation.
“How do you ensure that Nigeria is being charged the right cost on each barrel of oil.
“How is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to 21dollars per barrel.
“You also mentioned administrative issue, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world.
“These are issues that the national assembly is supposed to take up,” he said.
“Even the fixed cost on the long run are also variables which you can also work on,” he said.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari said the NNPC was working hard to bring down the fixed cost of crude oil production.
Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer of NNPC, Upstream,Mr Yemi Adetunji said further:
“We know that these costs are high that is why we have decided to go from even the initial approved 25 dollars to 21 dollars per barrel.
“We believe that once we have the new framework in place going forward, we shall even see lower cost of production from T1 and T2.
“There are things we are targeting; security challenges are peculiar to Nigeria.
“In other climes, pipelines are on the surface you hardly see them being tampered with, but in Nigeria even when they are buried two meters to three meters deep they are still being vandalised.
” In some cases, we are trying to take them to deeper levels but those ones will add to cost of production like going 10 meters to 15 meters deep.
“This adds to the cost about three or four times the cost of production as against putting the pipelines on the surface,” he said.
Military records successes against crude oil theft, others -DHQ
The Defence Headquarters says the Nigerian military under Operation Delta Safe has continued to record more successes in the fight against crude oil theft and economic sabotage in the Niger Delta region.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, stated this at a news conference on the operations of Nigerian military on Thursday in Abuja.
Enenche said the Nigerian Navy Ship, Delta, had recently located and dismantled illegal refining sites and a wooden boat.
He said they contain three coolers, 136 dugout pits and 201 surface metal storage tanks in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta.
According to him, the storage facilities were dismantled while no arrest was made as operators of the illegal refining sites fled on sighting the team.
“Meanwhile, the illegal refining sites have been earmarked for swamp buggy operation.
“Similarly, on May 11, Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS intercepted three large wooden boats around Madangho and Sara Creek in Warri South Local Government Area of the state.
“Equally, on May 12, the team discovered seven refining units, 13 metal storage tanks and four dugout pits with about 440.3 barrels of stolen crude oil and 180,000 litres of products suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“The boats, items and products discovered in the course of the operation were impounded,” he added.
The coordinator further disclosed that Forward Operating Base Ibaka patrol team around Effiat Waterways intercepted an abandoned wooden boat laden with 310 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice suspected to be smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon.
“The pirates took control of the vessel and directed the vessel towards Nigerian Waters.
“The vessel had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaian and Ivorian.
“The Nigerian Navy was alerted of the pirate attack and immediately, the Nigerian Navy Ship Nguru was dispatched to intercept the vessel.
“On interception of the vessel at about 140 nautical miles south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates refused to comply to the orders of the Nigerian Navy Ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel.
“All the ship crew were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were also arrested,” he said.
On other operations, Enenche said that the troops operating in various theatres across the country also recorded tremendous successes within the week under review.
He said that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had killed several members of the Boko Haram Terrorists/ISWAP fighters and senior commanders.
He added that the logistics facilities, gun trucks and other structures of the terrorists were also destroyed as well as recovery of cache of weapons.
According to him, some of these operations occurred in air strikes and other offensive operations executed across the theatre of operation.
In Operation Hadarin Daji, Enenche disclosed that the air component neutralised 27 armed bandits and destroyed some of their dwellings along the Nahuta-Doumborou Corridor on the border between Katsina and Zamfara States.
Under Operation Whirl Stroke, he said a total of 29 bandits and militias were neutralised within the last one week as well as recovery of arms and ammunition.
“The Military High Command congratulates all the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and personnel of other security agencies involved in various operations across the country.
“Furthermore, the professionalism and dexterity of the Nigerian Navy Ship Nguru is hereby commended.
“It equally appreciates the general public for providing credible information that facilitated the success of various operations.
“The troops are encouraged to remain focused on eliminating the enemies of the country, while the general public is requested to continue to provide credible information in furtherance of our national security,” he said.
Edited By: Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)
U.S. crude oil production decreases last week: EIA
U.S. crude oil production decreased during the week ending May 15, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Wednesday.
According to the EIA, U.S. crude oil production averaged 11.5 million barrels per day (b/d) last week, down by 100,000 b/d from the previous week and down by 500,000 b/d this time last year.
Oil prices gained on Wednesday after data showed a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories.
The West Texas Intermediate for July delivery rose 1.53 U.S. dollars to settle at 33.49 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for July delivery was up 1.10 dollars to close at 35.75 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
U.S. crude oil inventories decrease last week: EIA
U.S. crude oil inventories decreased during the week ending May 15, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Wednesday.
According to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, decreased by 5.0 million barrels from the previous week.
At 526.5 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories were about 10 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.
According to the EIA, total motor gasoline inventories increased by 2.8 million barrels last week and were about 10 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Finished gasoline and blending components inventories both increased last week.
Distillate fuel inventories increased by 3.8 million barrels last week and were about 19 percent above the five-year average for this time of year.
Propane/propylene inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels last week and were about 14 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased last week by 5.0 million barrels last week.
Oil rises on signs of firmer demand, fall in U.S. crude stocks
Brent crude futures for July delivery were up 23 cents, or 0.7 per cent, at $34.88 per barrel at 0347 GMT.
The U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for July CLc1 were up 14 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $32.10 a barrel.
The July contract closed on Tuesday at $31.96, up by one per cent.
The June contract expired on Tuesday at $32.50 a barrel, up 2.1 per cent, as the WTI futures market avoided the chaos of last month’s May expiry when prices sank below zero.
Oil prices have mainly risen during the past three weeks, with both benchmarks climbing above $30 for the first time in more than a month on Monday.
This was supported by massive output cuts by major oil-producing countries and signs of improving demand.
The U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.8 million barrels to 521.3 million barrels in the week to May 15, data from industry group, the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday.
Refinery runs rose by 229,000 barrels per day, the API said, a sign that plants are trying to produce more fuel as the U.S. eases its lockdowns put in place to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Oil markets have worried about high crude inventories but yesterday the WTI June contract expired and rolled over to July smoothly as concerns over crude stocks ease and demand have improved in the short-term,’’ said Kim Kwang-rae, commodity analyst at Samsung Securities in Seoul.
Asia’s gasoline profit margins turned positive on Tuesday for the first in nearly two months, giving hope to global oil refiners.
The U.S. Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell, said on Tuesday layoffs by state and local governments will slow the U.S. economic recovery.
But Boston Federal Reserve Bank President, Eric Rosengren, said the U.S. unemployment rate is likely to stay at double-digit levels through the end of the year.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Fire breaks out on crude oil tanker at Port of Belawan in Indonesia
Fire fighters extinguish fire which broke out on a crude oil tanker at Waruna Shipyard at the Port of Belawan in Indonesia’s province of North Sumatra, May 11, 2020. A fire broke out on a crude oil tanker docked at Waruna Shipyard at the Port of Belawan in Indonesia’s province of North Sumatra Monday morning, and several workers have been reportedly rushed to hospitals after suffering burns in the accident. (Photo by Alberth Damanik/Xinhua)
COVID-19: NESG urges FG to diversify economy from over-reliance on crude oil
“In order for us to mitigate the negative impact of the twin shocks, we need to as a country maintain delicate balance between saving the lives of our people and growing the economy.
“These twin shocks are not necessarily mutually exclusive and both can be pursued simultaneously.
“At the sub-national level, the state governments need to look more inward to significantly increase their Internally Generated Revenues.
“Of course, there is a need to consistently improve on the level of infrastructure in the country to make these things happen,” he said.
He urged the sector to strengthen control environment to check against anticipated increase in frauds and operational losses.
Jaiyeola urged other businesses to rethink their strategies and models, saying they would also have tough choices to make going forward.
He advised them to ensure proper cashflow management, as cash remained king while synergising and collaborating with other players within their industry.
For consumers, the NESG boss advised that they reconsider their consumption pattern and build savings culture as precautionary measure.
He, therefore, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and Bank of Industry (BoI), among other institutions, to jumpstart activities in the real sector, particularly among the SMEs.
According to him, these institutions have significant roles to play in reflating the economy.
He said: “The current position in the country is cyclical and will not be permanent.
“Despite the crisis, there are some opportunities. For example, we still have certain industries thriving in the country, such as information technology, communications, power, etc.
“By doing this, we will not be only able to stimulate significant investment from local players, but will also be able to attract more of foreign direct investments with a view to ultimately moving Nigeria from a “vicious cycle of poverty” to a “cycle of boom and prosperity”.
Edited By: Olawunmi Ashafa/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
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