By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The House of Representatives and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) have begun verification of authentic holders of oil blocks licenses in Nigeria, chairman of an adhoc committee set up for that purpose, Hon. Gideon Gwani has disclosed.
Gwani said recently in Abuja that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara had set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate all the holders of Oil Mining Leases (OML) and Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPL) in the country with a view to making appropriate recommendations to the federal government as revenue accruing from oil sales dwindles.
Acording to him, the committee was undertaking the verification with the DPR, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said as part of the exercise, the committee recently visited oil firms such as Belemaoil which owns an offshore license – OML 55, in Rivers State, and where he expressed his delight that an indigenous company has invested massively in oil production in the country.
A statement from Belemaoil which signed by its media advisor, Victor Ivoke quoted Gwani to have said when the committee visited the company that they were investigating the situation of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta area as well as ascertain the number of OPL and OML issued in the country.
He noted that part of their mandate was to meet all the holders of such licenses to see if they are in operation or abandoned.
“Our committee’s job is also to make sure that those holding these mining rights have gone through due process. Those who did not go through due process we shall recommend that they relinquish such rights because they are doing business illegally.
“We have just started the investigation and now at the verification stage and we want to see if the foreign companies doing business in Nigeria are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“At the end of this investigation, we will analyse all the information collated about every company and make appropriate recommendation to the House of Representatives. We are doing this investigation in concert with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which is the regulatory body and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),” Gwani said.
He stated on the status of Belemaoil, that they were making use of it and can be seen from evidences from DPR affirming that their approval on OML 55 operatorship was genuine.
“We hope that many more companies can borrow a leaf from Belemaoil and do what Belemaoil has done particularly for their host community where they have employed so many youths in the area,” he noted.
Commenting on reported call that more oil blocs should be allocated to the indigenes of Niger Delta, Gwani said such call was justified, adding that it was one of the reasons for the committee’s investigation.
He reportedly said: “That is why we are carrying out this investigation. We believe that when some of these oil blocks that were illegally acquired are relinquished, it will create an opportunity for some members of the host communities to participate in the acquisition process.
“By this, Niger Delta indigenes will have opportunity to do business with these resources in their domain and also contribute to the national economy. I believe that if we allow indigenes of Niger Delta to own some of these oil wells, we will have peace in the area and the country will witness stable economic growth. As a committee, we will investigate those who have not paid signature bonuses, rents and royalties and we shall insist that they make such payments to the federal government.”