A House of Representatives ad hoc panel on Wednesday asked the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to clear the $1.5 billion unpaid royalties on oil and gas activities by international oil companies (IOCs).
The panel, which is investigating revenue leakages to the tune of N1.6 trillion from January 2016 to January 2017, said available records showed that the amount was incurred in a period of three years.
At a session with officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and NPDC, the panel, chaired by Rep Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, C/River) rejected the $10 million monthly installment plan agreed between NPDC and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to settle the debt.
NPDC is an exploratory arm of the NNPC, doing business on behalf of the country's top oil company.
However, NNPC's Chief Operating Officer (COO) (Upstream), Bello Rabiu, told the lawmakers that despite being established by the NNPC, the NPDC is fully independent, adding that the current managements of both organisations had no hand in the royalties being owed.
Also, NPDC's managing director, Yusuf Matashi, told the lawmakers that the royalty debts came about as a result of the failure of Atlantic Energy, the company's strategic partner, to settle its liability.
He said Atlantic Energy "is fond of presenting different companies, a situation that has made it difficult for NPDC to extract compliance on contract agreements". He said that the case is in court and would be subjudice for it to be treated in public.
But members of the panel insisted that NPDC must look for the money by whatever means to pay DPR. It expressed disappointment in the behaviour of NPDC as a government agency.
The panel also engaged heads of IOCs such as Osagie Okunbor of Shell; Massimo Wsulla of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NOAC) and Paul McUrath, Managing Director of Exxon Mobil.