Nigeria's Senate to investigate "anomalies" in renewal of oil leases
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's upper house of parliament will investigate anomalies in the renewal of oil leases by the ministry of petroleum, it said on Wednesday.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest crude oil producer and oil sales make up around two-thirds of government revenue. Oil companies must periodically renew their oil block licences to continue extraction or exploration.
The Senate voted for a committee to "report to the Senate the anomalies in the ongoing lease renewal process and identify appropriate measures to correct the said anomalies".
It followed the reading of a motion on the floor of the Senate which stated that "illegal discounts and rebates" had been granted by the ministry.
"The ongoing lease renewal process is capable of denying government revenue in excess of $10 billion as a result of illegal discounts and rebates in the process of lease renewal," the motion stated.
Idang Alibi, director of press at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, declined to comment.
On July 10, Nigerian lawmakers voted to investigate the state oil firm, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, over a shortfall in revenue remittances to government coffers.
(Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Adrian Croft)
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