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The Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, has requested for clarification on the renewal of some oil mining leases in possession of Mobil Producing Nigeria.

In a Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued to the Managing Director, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, dated January 2, 2018 and signed by HEDA’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the organisation said it is seeking inquiry for the forensic audit report regarding the renewal of three Oil Mining Leases (OMLs 67, 68 and 70) for Mobil Producing Nigeria for $600 million.

According to HEDA, the renewal of three Oil Mining Leases (OMLs 67, 68 & 70) for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) by the federal government was widely reported in the Newspapers in Nigeria and abroad. The organisation, however, said the details of the terms of the renewed leases were not disclosed to the press, thereby causing so much controversies as to the circumstances surrounding the payment and the amount paid.

It would be recalled that based on the valuation conducted by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, MPN, and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, as equity holders, were required to pay $6.375 billion as 100 per cent of the reserve fee. Mobil’s 40 per cent share in the lease was fixed at $2.55 billion, of which there would be a commitment to invest the sum of $1.2 billion in a refinery and gas infrastructure for the domestic market.

According to HEDA, “Reports In the public domain and some documents sighted by this organisation, Mobil rejected the said terms and allegedly paid $600 million for the renewal of the three oil blocks which have a combined output of 580,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Curiously, the payment was accepted by the then Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, who purportedly signed the deal.

“However, the predecessor of the erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources had refused to endorse this transaction, accusing MPN of undervaluing the oil block. The said leases were however, renewed for 20 years by the erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources on behalf of the Government of the Federation.

“You will recall the successor of Mr. Ajumogobia in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, rejected the terms for the renewal of this licenses, resulting in a fresh negotiation leading to additional payment by your company for the block.”

HEDA said in the light of the foregoing, and in view of the demand of the Nigerian people for the transparent management of the oil and gas industry, “We would appreciate your company furnishing us with details of the renewal and the total amount paid by Exxon Mobil for these licenses. More so, when a Chinese company had offered to pay the difference of $3.75 billion for 40 per cent equity interest in the NNPC-Mobil Joint Venture or $18.75 billion for 100 per cent equity interest in oil and gas reserves at the time of this renewal.

“HEDA Resource Centre is hereby requesting, in accordance with Section 1(1) of the FoI Act 2011, for information on the payments and conditions attached to the renewal.

“Section 1(1) “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person to access or request information, whether or not contained in any written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution however described, is established”.

“Section 2(7) “Public institutions are all authorities whether executive, legislative or judicial agencies, ministries, and extra-ministerial departments of the government, together with all corporations established by law and all companies in which government has a controlling interest and private companies utilizing public funds, providing public services or performing public functions.

“Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited operates a Joint Venture with the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The Federal Government has controlling 60 percent share, with the remaining 40 percent being MPN.

“As an internationally reputed firm with integrity in standard and discipline, we shall look forward to receiving this report promptly, and in any event, within seven days after this application is received, as provided for in Section 4 and 4a of the FoI Act 2011,” HEDA said.

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