Senate panel orders audit of Total’s $16bn Egina project

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The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Investigation of the Local Content Elements and Cost Variations of the $16bn Egina Offshore Oil Project has ordered that the accounts of the project be audited.

The committee said the audit was to ensure that Nigeria was not trapped in perpetual debt without any benefits from the project.

The project, which commenced in 2013 and is being undertaken by Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, is almost 90 per cent completed.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Solomon Adeola, however, alleged that the project, estimated to produce 200,000 barrels of oil per day, had not been audited in any form since its commencement.

A statement by his media adviser, Mr. Kayode Odunaro, quoted Adeola as stating that there was the need for a value-for-money audit of the project, both technical and financial.

He said the investigation would also show the level of compliance with the local content and other applicable laws in the industry.

Adeola stated that the audit and its outcome would serve as a guide for other similar projects, stating that it should be done by an independent body outside Total Upstream Nigeria Limited.

The lawmaker also asked the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board to provide all relevant local content approvals it had granted the Egina project, including expatriate quota, trainings and related local content matters.

Adeola said regulatory bodies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should have called for the audit in the past based on what was contained in the Egina project agreement, stating that until the audit was done, no similar projects would be approved by the Senate.

The statement quoted the Chief Operating Officer, NNPC Upstream, Mr. Bello Rabiu, as telling the committee that the corporation had not called for an audit because the project was going smoothly.

He was further quoted as stating that the NNPC had so far approved $10.3bn of the total cost of the project, which was put at $16.3bn, in contrast to about $11.4bn contained in documents of Total Upstream.

The Managing Director, Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, Mr. Nicholas Terraz, was also quoted as telling the committee that the project was going according to plan.

Terraz was also quoted as saying that the project would be beneficial to Nigeria and Total in the long-run, as it was being constructed at the lowest cost and best practices.

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