Lawyers raise alarm over alleged illegal lifting of crude oil at Ugo Ocha export terminal in OML 42

Abuja—A group of lawyers in Abuja have petitioned the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee over alleged illegal oil lifting from the Ugo Ocha export terminal at OML 42 by a company known as NECONDE Energy Limited (NECONDE).

They declared that an average of one million barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil is taken away monthly without accurate measurement due to the absence of meters at this export terminal.

OML 42 lies in the swamps of the western Niger Delta, having a total of four flow stations with a combined production capacity of around 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Lawyers, through O. F. Emmanuel & Co., alleged that since the Ugo Ocha export terminal was established in 2017 (about five years ago), the company, NECONDE has intentionally frustrated every effort by the Federal Government to install a metering system also known as LACT Unit at the UGO Ocha terminal.

According to the petition, the company has continued to operate the terminal in full violation of the Federal Government’s requirement for accurate custody transfer measurement at all export terminals.

The Lawyers, in the petition signed by the Principal Partner, Oluwatosin F. Emmanuel Esq, alleged that as of the time of the petition, there are no meters at the Ugo Ocha export terminal to accurately determine the volumes of Nigeria’s crude oil sold to foreign buyers.

They stated that an enormous amount of revenue to the tune of $15,000,000.00 (Fifteen Million US Dollars) per month – accruable to the Federal government of Nigeria could potentially be lost due to the absence of a functional measurement system for exported crude oil volumes at this terminal.

The legal practitioners averred that the government through its Upstream regulator, NUPRC recently placed a ban on all crude oil exports from the Ugo Ocha terminal (effectively making Ugo Ocha an illegal export route), but the company, NECONDE continues to violate the subsisting government ban and illegally exports Nigeria’s crude oil from this banned terminal.

They further revealed that at the time of submitting their petition on the 21st of September, 2022, a foreign tanker “MT COPPER SPIRIT” was at the Ugo Ocha terminal preparing to load Nigeria’s crude oil for export without measurement.

Copies of the government’s ban on crude oil exports from the Ugo Ocha terminal were attached to the petition by the lawyers and made available at the Senate’s Investigative Hearing on “Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues” which held at the National Assembly Abuja on 21st of September 2022.

They asked the Senate ad-hoc committee to come to the aid of Nigeria and Nigerians by ensuring that the ban on exports from the Ugo Ocha terminal is enforced and the company, NECONDE is compelled to install a 1.25 million barrels per day LACT Unit (metering system) which has already been manufactured, paid for and approved by the government regulator (NUPRC) for the Ugo Ocha terminal.

The lawyers prayed the Senate ad-hoc committee to, amongst other things, – (1) direct the Nigerian Navy to arrest and detain the vessel “MT COPPER SPIRIT” which is currently lifting oil at the Ugo Ocha terminal.

They also urged the ad-hoc committee to direct the NMDPRA and NUPRC to cancel all barging permits granted to NECONDE and NPDC until a LACT Unit is installed and commissioned at the Ugo Ocha terminal as directed by NUPRC

The lawyers prayed the ad-hoc committee to direct the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to prohibit the movement of crude oil barges and tankers to and from the Ugo Ocha terminal.

They wondered why and how the government of Nigeria is allowing this illegal lifting of its crude oil resources at OML 42 to continue unabated while complaining to the world that crude oil theft is crippling the nation’s fragile economy.

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