Nearly three and a half years after the Berne Declaration (BD) published its explosive report, “Swiss Traders’ Opaque Deals in Nigeria,” alleging billion dollar fraud in oil trades and the controversial crude oil for petroleum products swap program, President Buhari’s government announced in March 2017 that it had reached a settlement with three of the seven Nigerian trading firms with Swiss-based subsidiaries identified amongst the worst offenders of the SWAP contracts.
Taleveras agreed to repay $27.2 million in two tranches ($17.2 million followed by a $10 million payment) to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Ontario Oil and Gas Limited agreed to pay $10 million and AITEO Energy settled $202.35 million in outstanding debt with NNPC.
President Buhari cancelled all SWAP contracts in 2015 following an audit that recommended that his admiration conduct a thorough audit of all of NNPC’s Offshore Processing Agreements, OPAs, and Crude Oil Swap deals.
The Berne Declaration report also implicated NNPC in the diversion of billions of dollars through its partnerships with Swiss trading firms Trafigura and Vitol.
These settlements are Nigeria’s the latest efforts to recover fraudulent payment to oil sector firms. In 2016, Nigeria filed suit against Eni, Chevron, Shell, Total and Petrobras accusing the oil majors of $12.7 billion in illegal oil exports.
Per Berne Declaration, “Nigeria is the only major producing company that sells 100 percent of its crude oil to private traders, rather than marketing it itself and benefiting from the resulting added value.” Further, the country has no idea how much oil it produces as it does not meter output either at the wellhead or flowing through pipelines. Instead exports from terminals are used as a proxy for national production.
These arrangements, coupled with opaque procurement practices has given rise to an environment susceptible to fraud. President Buhari, who has described the corruption in Nigeria’s oil industry as “mind boggling,” is being urged to invest his political capital to push through reforms.