Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
An oil giant, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (ExxonMobil), has denied an allegation of owing the Federal Government to the tune of $1.8bn for the renewal of three oil blocks’ licences.
It said on Monday that it made a total payment of $665m for the renewal of the Oil Mining Leases 67, 68 and 70.
In a July 15, 2019 letter, which was obtained by The PUNCH on Monday, the company told its accuser, the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, that it made full payment for oil blocks’ renewal in 2009.
The alleged indebtedness translates to about N648bn at $1 to N360 exchange rate, while the $665m the company claimed to have paid for the leases translates to N239.4bn.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the SPIPRPP led by Mr Okoi Obono-Obla was investigating a petition by human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), who accused the oil company of only paying about $600m out of the payable renewal fees of $2.5bn (about N900bn) for the three oil blocks.
The PUNCH had obtained the panel’s June 13, 2018 letter addressed to Mobil’s managing director at Mobil House, Lagos, giving the company three weeks to pay the alleged outstanding balance of about $1.9bn to the Federation Account.
ExxonMobil had denied the indebtedness in series of correspondences addressed to the panel including its reply dated July 5, 2018.
Officials of Mobil had also appeared before the panel which insisted that the explanations offered by the company were unsatisfactory.
The SPIRRPP had also called for documents covering the transaction.
Mobil in a July 15, 2019 letter which was signed by the company’s Vice Chairman, Udom Inoyo, forwarded the Department of Petroleum Resources’ and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s documents in respect of the transactions to the SPIRRPP.
Further denying the alleged indebtedness, the company stated that the $665m it paid for the Oil Mining Leases 67, 68 and 70 was the full payment in line with the agreement reached with the DPR and the NNPC.
The letter titled, ‘Re: OML 67, 68 and 70 — Renewal Fee and Payment’, read in part, “We have again searched our records on this matter and wish to provide some additional information that supports our position that the renewal fees required of the MPN related to the renewal of OMLs 67, 68 and 70 have been paid in full.”