By Ikenna Uwadileke
The Chairman of Capital Oil, Mr Ifeanyi Ubah, currently embroiled in crisis with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over product diversion, has alleged the corporation is owing him N16 billion.
NNPC has been tackling Ubah over N11 billion which it claimed was the worth of the product which Capital Oil diverted.
Ubah made the disclosure at the on-going public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream.
The committee is investigating the alleged disappearance of 82 million metric litres of petrol belonging to NNPC that was stored at Capital Oil tank farm in Lagos.
Ubah said that instead the national oil corporation was owing him N16 billion.
According to him, NNPC blew the entire incident out of proportion.
He added that claims and counter claims by both parties were subject of litigation and investigation by anti-graft agencies.
“The contract which is what we operate with NNPC puts us in a position of a stock manager which is somewhat the vessel akin to an oil bank.
“This allows for coming in and loading out of products so long as we ensure that all parties having products in our storage ultimately receive their total stock.
“The NNPC in the past has also borrowed products from us to keep their supply and distribution chain running.
“NNPC claimed that we owe N11 billion but failed to reveal that they owe us N16 billion with a key portion of the debt spanning over two years,” Ubah said.
He added that his company had not denied that it had in stock products belonging to NNPC but accused the national oil company of failing to conduct a reconciliation with Capital Oil before rushing into making allegations.
Uba said the contract his firm had with NNPC did not contain any clause for the payment for products in its tank farm in cash in the event that NNPC needed its products.
“But it provides for a two-week notice for Capital Oil to be informed to replace the volume of products to meet any shortfall.
“We duly paid for product from NNPC and were issued loading permit.
“However, NNPC diverted the vessel that was supposed to deliver the product and has till date refused to deliver same, thereby causing a break in the chain of product flow that would have plugged any gap.
“The unprofessional way in which the issue was handed led to a run on our company operations thereby destabilising our business and causing us to shut down our operations.
“The circumstances have caused us billions of naira in losses and serious dislocations for our workers,’’ Ubah said.
He further said that on many occasions Capital Oil had loaned millions of litres of petroleum products from its storage to the NNPC group without alerting or alarming the public.
“We have always kept the confidentiality of our relationship sacrosanct.
“It is in the light of these indisputable circumstances that we were shocked at and disappointed with the actions of the NNPC in throwing the issue to the public.’’
He also condemned NNPC for calling in law enforcement agencies without fully exploring available dispute resolution mechanism available within the purview of their contractual relationship.
“However, we have submitted these issues to the jurisdiction of the courts and the relevant law enforcement agencies,’’ Ubah said.
He bemoaned the sacking of the former Managing Director of NNPC Retail over the alleged diversion incident, insisting that the sack was done in bad faith.
Earlier, the acting Managing Director, NNPC Retail, Mr Danjuma Dansule, said that the total shortfall of petroleum products allegedly diverted by Capital Oil was 82 million metric litres.
Dansule said that this amounted to N11.144 billion out of which two billion naira part payment had been made as at April.
He, however, said that negotiations were on-going as to the actual value of the alleged diverted product and the interest to be paid by Capital Oil.
He also said that Capital Oil was owing NNPC another N359 million under the Kerosene Direct Scheme. (NAN)