Aiteo Exploration and Production Company on Friday said the alleged 16 million barrels crude oil shortfall recorded at the Bonny Export Terminal between 2016 and 2018 belonged to it and the Federal Government.
Group Head, Media Operations at Aiteo, Ndiana Matthew, said the indigenous oil firm was being victimized for raising the alarm over the missing crude oil volume from the terminal.
Mathew accused Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), operator of the Bonny Crude Export Terminal, of being behind reports of the alleged missing crude oil volume to tarnish Aiteo’s image and that of its founder, Benedict Peters, to divert attention.
“By making the allegation of the missing crude oil, it is obvious what Shell wants to achieve is that the outcome will create unnecessary digressions and distractions from the current issues encapsulated by our demand that Shell accounts and pays for over 16 million barrels of crude oil belonging to us and the Nigerian government.
“The crude is missing through their actions and activities. Hitherto unchallenged evidence of this missing crude is exemplified by the discrepancies in the production figures independently reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
“As is standard in the oil industry, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) reports actually reconciled production volumes from the wells that flow to the oil terminal.
“The DPR records and statistics align with Aiteo’s reconciled production figures. NNPC, on the other hand, reports crude oil measured at the tanks in the terminal exclusively managed, operated and controlled by the international oil company (IOC).
“It is the analysis of these independent reports that demonstrate the glaring discrepancies. Indeed, over the relevant three-year period, the figures from both government agencies support Aiteo’s position.
“In 2016, NNPC reported 16 million barrels, while DPR records showed 22 million. In 2017, NNPC data showed 13.5 million barrels, whereas DPR recorded 21 million barrels. In 2018, NNPC recorded 15 million, and DPR 25 million barrels,” Aiteo stated.
Those familiar with the issue noted that the crude oil deficit between 2016 and 2018 reported at the Bonny oil export terminal operated by SPDC caused a dispute amongst several oil firms that used the oil export facility.
However, SPDC said allegations of involvement in oil theft at its Bonny Crude Export Terminal were misleading.
SPDC spokesperson, Bamidele Odugbesan, described the claims by Aiteo as “factually incorrect.”
“The crude theft and diversion allegation are also factually incorrect. This is a distinct issue that relates to the directive by the DPR to SPDC as the operator of the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, an asset belonging to the SPDC Joint Venture to implement a crude reallocation programme between injectors into the SPDC Joint Venture’s Trans-Niger Pipeline and injectors into the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL).
“Crude allocation review and reallocation is a normal industry practice to reallocate previous provisional allocated volumes under the directive and supervision of DPR and this is not an exercise resulting from crude diversion, underreporting or theft at the terminal.
“This industry practice is not peculiar to the SPDC-operated Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal alone and does not translate into any loss of volumes to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“The reallocation issue was initiated by SPDC as operator of the Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal, while the DPR validated and confirmed it for implementation for the concerned oil producers.
“Crude oil production metering and allocation are subject to specific guidelines issued by the industry regulator, DPR, SPDC strictly adheres to these guidelines and the implementation is regularly verified by the regulator,” Odugbesan stated.
Following the incident, it was learned that most companies that use the NCTL to convey crude oil to the Bonny terminal, namely SPDC, Belema Oil Limited, Eroton E&P, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, Total E&P and Walter Smith Petroleum Limited, were proportionately affected by the shortfall in volume.
Aiteo is one of Nigeria’s indigenous oil firms operating in the Niger Delta region. In 2015, the company acquired oil mining lease (OML) 29 for $2.4 billion following SPDC’s divestment of its 45 percent stake from the asset.
OML 29 included the 97-kilometre NCTL, which has the capacity to lift up to 180,000 barrels per day of crude oil from oilfields in Bayelsa and Rivers States to the Bonny terminal for export. (NAN)