The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has announced its approval of the lifting of petroleum products by ExxonMobil at Bonny Terminal, Rivers State. This declaration was made by the Chief Executive of NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, in a statement issued on the 14th of June, 2023. The approval comes in response to allegations made by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) regarding the illegal lifting of petroleum products at the Bonny River terminal.
In a letter addressed to the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, the NMDPRA claimed that ExxonMobil was engaged in the unauthorized lifting of Butane at the terminal using a vessel named Barumk Gas, without the necessary authorization from the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing operations at the terminal. However, Mr. Komolafe clarified that ExxonMobil had indeed applied and obtained the required clearance from NUPRC for the lifting of 12,600 metric tonnes of Butane aboard the Barumk Gas vessel on May 26, 2023.
The NUPRC emphasizes that the approved operation was carried out in compliance with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, which designates NUPRC as the technical and commercial regulator of the upstream petroleum sector in Nigeria. The approval aligns with Sections 8(d) and 318 of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, enabling ExxonMobil to proceed with its integrated operations.
The loading operation of the Barumk Gas vessel commenced on June 7, 2023, at the Bonny River Terminal, and was concluded on June 8, 2023. Following the completion of the operation, an official from NUPRC present at the terminal issued a Certificate of Quantity and Quality (CoQ) as required for accurate hydrocarbon accounting, reporting, and the vessel's ability to sail to its delivery destination.
The NUPRC firmly asserts that the operation conducted by ExxonMobil was legitimate and within its statutory mandate as the technical and commercial regulator of the petroleum upstream sector in Nigeria. There is no evidence of any illegality committed by ExxonMobil Nigeria, its affiliates, or NUPRC as a government agency.
It is important to note that the Nigerian Senate established an ad hoc committee to investigate oil lifting, theft, and their impact on petroleum production and revenues due to the growing incidence of crude oil theft in the upstream petroleum sector. Following the committee's investigation and presentation of its findings on November 7, 2022, the Senate passed resolutions calling for the streamlining of operations at crude oil export terminals in Nigeria.
In line with Section 7(ee) of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, the Senate resolved that NUPRC should assume full regulatory oversight of all existing crude oil export terminals. The former president, Muhammadu Buhari, approved this resolution, directing immediate compliance and affirming that NUPRC is the sole regulatory entity responsible for monitoring and regulating activities at all existing crude oil export terminals in Nigeria.
As a result, NUPRC has notified industry operators and stakeholders of its readiness to assume full regulatory oversight, ensuring regulatory certainty and a commitment to facilitating ease of doing business, encouraging investments, and promoting stability and predictability in the Nigerian upstream petroleum industry.
In conclusion, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has clarified that ExxonMobil's petroleum lifting operation at the Bonny Terminal was conducted with the necessary approvals and in compliance with the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021. The commission reaffirms its commitment to its regulatory responsibilities and emphasizes the importance of regulatory certainty and transparency in promoting the ease of doing business and attracting investments in the Nigerian upstream petroleum industry.