Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has promised to work closely with ENi/Agip to speedily resolve all pending issues that led to the suspension of cash-call repayment.
The national oil company suspended cash-call repayments to Italian oil major ENi for three months, and did not indicate plans to renew some of the firm’s asset licences.
Currently, NNPC owes various international oil companies (IOCs), including ENi, about $5 billion, being its share of operating costs for their joint ventures, better known as cash-calls.
The Corporation has, however, reduced its debts to less than $3 billion, having offset over $2 billion.
NNPC’s refusal to pay ENi’s cash-calls followed some disputes which have hindered the development of some of the country’s oil assets.
In a statement yesterday by NNPC spokesman Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the Corporation promised to work closely with Agip to speedily resolve all pending issues that led to the suspension of the cash-call repayment.
NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD) Mele Kyari made the commitment during a business visit by a delegation from ENi/Agip led by the Executive Vice Chairman, Sub-Saharan African Region, and Chairman ENI Exploration and Production in Nigeria, Mr Brusco Guido.
Kyari explained that the failure to pay cash-call arrears in the last three months was deliberate and meant to ensure that the issues surrounding the agreement were resolved.
“The money is there, it is ready. We will pay as soon as the issues are resolved by the end of the week,” Mele Kyari assured.
On the issue of some of the expired assets, the GMD explained that there was no immediate plan to renew the licenses as the Federal Government was interested in having the exploration and production arm of the NNPC, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), operate them.
On the Okpai Independent Power Project, Kyari explained that the issues that led to the delay in payment have been resolved, and that payment would be effected as soon as possible.
“We will work with you. You can count on us,” he again assured the ENi/Agip team, urging them to fast-track the Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery to ensure that it was delivered before the scheduled date of October 2019.
Speaking earlier, Guido said ENi/Agip was fully aligned with the Kyari’s three-point agenda of growing reserves, growing production, and cutting cost.
He, however, listed a number of challenges that had hampered its operation and urged NNPC management to help resolve them in order to meet its target of growing production from the JV assets by 30% over last year’s rate.