FG accuses Shell of crude oil theft, demands $406 million

The Nigerian government  is demanding $406.75 million minimum from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria Limited and its surrogate Shell Western Supply & Trading Limited over alleged crude oil theft. The amount, according to court papers in Lagos, represents the shortfall of the money paid by the multinational oil firm in the account of the Nigerian government with Central Bank of Nigeria, for crude oil lifted in 2013 and 2014.

Government lawyer, Professor Fabian Ajogwu accused the Anglo-Dutch company of not declaring or under-declaring crude oil shipments during the period, following forensic analysis of bills of lading and shipping documents, Ajogwu, armed with  sworn affidavits of  three United States of America based professionals,  claimed that Shell cheated Nigeria of the revenue.

Among the  three professionals employed by the Federal Government of Nigeria are: Professor David Olowokere, a US citizen who is the lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, a technology and oil and gas auditing firm based in United States of America and  Jerome Stanley, a counsel in the law firm of Henchy &Hackenberg, a law firm  based in United States of America and head of the legal team engaged by Loumo Group LLC.

The third professional is Micheal Kanko a citizen of the USA and resident of the state of Arizona , who is the founder and the current Chief Executive Officer of Trade Data services Company.

The consortium of experts was able to track the global movements of the country’s hydro-carbons including crude oil and gas with the main purposes of identifying the companies engaged in the practices that led to missing  revenues from crude oil and gas exports sales to different parts of the world.

In reconciling the export records from Nigeria, with the import records at  ports in  the United States of America,  the experts found mind boggling discrepancies.

The Nigerian government  averred for instance that on 6th of January, 2013 the defendants lifted crude oil  using the vessel AUTHENTIC and shipped same to BP Oil Supply of 28301 Ferry  Road, Warrenville, Illinois, USA at the port of Chester, Pennsylvania, United States of America. The shipment had the  Bill of lading number ALMYSVDM161212A3.

This particular  shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities in Nigeria,  resulting in the shortfall of 660,712 barrels of crude oil in the value of $72,678,320 as revenue to the Government. On 3 January, 2013, Shell and its surrogate company  lifted crude oil that resulted in the shortfall of 979,031 barrels  in the value of $107,693,410

On the 14th of December, 2014, Shell also lifted crude oil using the  vessel EAGLE TUSCON and shipped same to Shell Deer Park of 5900 Texas 225,Deer Park, TX77536,USA at the port of Houston, Texas, United States of America with Bill of lading number AETK0909US14.

The  shipment was not declared to the relevant authorities, resulting in the shortfall of 499,048 barrels of crude oil in the value of $54,895,280 as revenue to the Federal Government.

Shell, with its allied company, was also alleged at three different times  to have shipped crude on board  EAGLE TUSCON, EAGLE SEVILLE, OVERSEAS EVERGLADES,  that resulted in the shortfall of 3,697,737 barrels of crude oil. This brings the total value of all the shortfall to $406,751,070

On  21 January ,2016 the Federal government through its legal representative wrote a letter to the defendants drawing their attention to the  discrepancies. Government asked them to clarify the discrepancies, with documentation, as a prelude to the repayment of the revenues and debt they now owe the government.

Till date Federal government has not received from the defendants any payment pursuant to the said letter nor the requested documents. Nigeria’s  government averred that it has suffered huge and enormous financial loss as a result of the defendants under-declaration of the value of the crude oil they lifted and exported to the United States of America.

Nigerian government now seeks a court order  compelling the two companies to pay into the Federal government of Nigeria account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, the sum of USD 406,751,070 being the total value of the missing revenue from the shortfall /undeclared/under -declared crude oil shipments of the country, made by the companies to United States of America.

Government also demands  interest payment at  21% per annum on the sum of $406,751,070 until the entire sum is liquidated.

Shell in addition is being asked to pay general exemplary damages in the sum of $406,751,070 and the cost of instituting the legal action. The presiding judge, Mojisola Olatoregun Isola has adjourned till 20th of October 2016 for mention of the case.

Nigeria has also sued Chevron, Total and Agip asking for a total of $12.7 billion over  alleged non-declaration of some 57 million barrels of crude shipped  to the United States between 2011 and 2014. The oil firms  are among up to 15 oil majors  targeted by the Nigerian government for the recovery of  $17 billion  in deprived revenue.

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