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FG proposes payments of NNPC’s dividends into SWF

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The Federal Government has proposed that some of the dividends from the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) expected to be re-organised in line with the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) should be paid into Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund. This is with a view to growing the fund’s reserves and create stronger financial buffers for the country.

Contained in the final draft of the ‘Nigeria National Petroleum Fiscal Policy’, which the ministry of petroleum resources released on its website, the government also proposed to increase the amount of revenue it could take from oil production through royalty-based value system, which, in other words, mean capturing windfall profits.

It also stated that it would want the fiscal terms for extraction of hydrocarbons in the country to be cost efficient, adding that the cost of development to revenue often regarded as Cost Price Ratio (CPR) should not exceed 30 per cent.

Presently, Nigeria plans to review the laws guiding operations in her oil and gas industry. These laws have been described as outdated and out of touch with existing situations in the global oil and gas industry. They have also been blamed for the lack of progressive investments in the country’s oil industry.

Also, funding to Nigeria’s SWF comes from the government’s excess earnings from crude oil sales. The draft proposal, however, appeared to suggest an extra funding source for the Fund. It stated that the National Oil Company (NOC) would agree with the ministry of finance what percentage of the annual dividend would be paid to the SWF.

It said: “Creation of financial buffers: while Nigeria already has a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), funding under the provisions of the enabling legislation has proven difficult at best.

“Significant revenues could have accrued to the SWF if the political will had been in place to avoid them being spent on subsidy payments. At the petroleum ministry level, the petroleum fiscal policy as it relates to the National Oil Company is that the National Oil Company shall agree an annual dividend policy with the ministry of finance for proceeds arising from its profits to be paid to the government and that the retained earnings consequent to this dividend policy shall be used for commercially sound investments.”

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The policy further explained that it would seek to avoid the application of populist economics in the running of the NOC, saying that the NOC shall specifically be protected from exogenous intrusions in terms of its revenues.

“In other words, the government commits to market related pricing for crude and derivative products in the industry and price setting only in the case of natural monopolies such as pipeline and processing facilities, where prices shall be non-discriminatory and regulated on a rate of return basis.

“Additionally, government is committed to incentivising investment in domestic production through backward integration strategies in the oil and gas industry by extending Section 39 CITA Fiscal Incentives to all mid-stream oil and gas utilisation projects,” it added.

The draft document said the government would push to have it passed into law within one year, and that under it, the government would equally take reduced royalties from productions in the onshore and shallow water, where the burden of development are too high impeding development of new fields, in particular by small companies.

“It will also aim to achieve the following – increase the government take in deep water consistent with Section 16 of the Deep Offshore Act comparable to international levels, make petroleum revenues easier to collect by improving the petroleum revenue governance framework, make the collection process more transparent through the petroleum revenue information system, adjust the system to a modern international taxation framework,” it explained.

Its overall objective was to have all companies engaged in upstream petroleum operations pay Company Income Tax (CIT), including the NNPC and its successors, introduce a resource tax called the Nigerian Hydrocarbon Tax (NHT) which is a simplified version of Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), and eliminate tax offsets and upstream investment tax allowances, as well as introduce volume and price based royalties.

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On cost efficiency in oil production, the policy said, “The fiscal design principles that underpin the government’s fiscal policy is that the fiscal terms for extraction of hydrocarbons should be such that the cost of development to revenue (the Cost Price Ratio or CPR), should not exceed 30 per cent. In other words, the fiscal system is designed to support cost efficient operations in order to reverse the six-fold increase in cost per barrel of production in Nigeria from 2004 to 2014.”

In another development, following from his diplomatic shuttles to members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members alike to encourage their commitments to restoring the prices of oil through a production freeze they reached in December 2016, the Secretary General of OPEC, Dr. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, is scheduled to officially visit Nigeria this week.

This is just as the Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) has reported that OPEC and Non-OPEC countries were on the right track towards full conformity with their adjustments in production.

It was learnt yesterday in Abuja that Barkindo will arrive the country today, and begin his official interactions with government officials including Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Monday.

Barkindo’s visit to Nigeria was also confirmed to the paper by the Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ndu Ughamadu.

While in the country, he would hold discussions with top government officials on the country’s status in the existing production freeze agreement which excluded Nigeria from participating on account of her challenges with militancy in the Niger Delta and its subsequent disruption of her oil production.

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He would also participate in the annual Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) conference and exhibition which is scheduled to commence this week. Since the agreement was reached, Barkindo had visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Venezuela, amongst other OPEC and non-OPEC countries. This would however be his first visit to Nigeria where he once served as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC.

Meanwhile, the JMMC has reported that based on the report of the Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Technical Committee (JTC), OPEC and Non-OPEC countries were on the right track towards full conformity with their adjustments in oil production with regards to the December agreement.

A statement from OPEC Secretariat indicated that the JTC, a technical sub-committee of the JMMC, held its inaugural meeting on February 22, 2017 in Vienna at which it discussed issues related to the conformity with the production levels set out during the 171 ministerial conference of the OPEC.

It explained that the JTC considered presentations by the OPEC Secretariat on current market developments and deliberated on various technical issues on conformity with the agreement.

According to it, the JTC report for January 2017 noted that the OPEC and Non-OPEC producers achieved a conformity level of 86 per cent.

It stated that the finalised JTC report was submitted to the JMMC, and the JTC was lauded on its thorough and transparent report. The JMMC expressed its satisfaction with the progress made towards full conformity with the production adjustment but added that there was still room for improvement to reach 100 per cent conformity.

It thus urged all parties to press on towards full and timely conformity, and that the second meeting of the JTC would take place in Vienna in March 2017, followed by the next JMMC meeting to be held in Kuwait on 25 and 26 of March 2017.

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