Minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva has revealed that Nigeria lost revenues in taxes, royalties and other payments over non-performance of Atala oilfield and other marginal oilfields.
Recall that the federal government last month handed the Atala oilfield to a new operator but the Bayelsa state government frowned at the development, asking the federal government to return the oilfield licence to the state.
Sylva who recently had a briefing with the press explained that there are conditions attached to the ownership of any licence, including optimal utilisation of the asset.
He added that for 17 years, the conditions were not met by Bayelsa and the owners of the 10 other oilfields.
According to him, all the procedures for cancelling any licence granted to an oilfield licence holder were thoroughly complied with.
The minister wondered why the former holders should be interested in whoever the new owners of the assets are.
He further explained that oilfield owners do not just hold licences for the sake of it, but to put them to maximum use which will invariably earn more revenue for the government.
“About 11 marginal fields were revoked for non-performance, and the holders of these fields held them for 17 years without producing these fields, and as a country, we lose money. Because if we are producing these fields, the country too will be getting royalties and other payments, and taxes from your production,” Sylva said.
“But when you hold an asset and you just keep it, and you are not producing that asset, the country is losing money ultimately.
“So after 17 years, the president, in his wisdom, decided to revoke those assets and revoking it means it is no longer your asset. So, if it is no longer your asset, what is your business, whether it has been given to somebody else?.
“Bayelsa state government, are they denying that they ran the asset sub-optimally? They are not, and I am sure they are not arguing with that, they are not arguing with the revocation.
“So, I don’t want to go into all the details. So, just know that this asset was not singled out. It was revoked along with a lot of other assets for the same reason.
“I don’t want to now single out one of those assets and discuss it. If you are talking about all the assets, then we’ll discuss it, but I don’t want to single any one of those assets and discuss it, because I happen to come from Bayelsa state too.”
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