“It is natural for the CBN to be concerned at the low level of accretion to reserves and the Excess Crude Account in spite of strong international oil prices,” Ugochukwu Okoroafor, a spokesman for the bank, said in a statement on its website. He said the concern is shared by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer of crude, relies on oil and gas for about 80 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of foreign-currency earnings. It uses the Excess Crude Account to save oil revenue that comes in above the benchmark budgeted price, using it to plug income shortfalls caused by market volatility or output disruptions.
Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said Oct. 31 that the ECA had a balance of just under $5 billion, down from about $9 billion at the beginning of the year. The spot price of Nigeria’s benchmark Qua Iboe crude has exceeded $100 a barrel for most of the year, above the $79 budgeted. It was $112.10 a barrel as of 11:36 a.m. in London today.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., the state oil company, has been accused of withholding $49.8 billion of revenue earned from January 2012 to July this year, ThisDay newspaper reported Dec. 10, citing a September letter from central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi to the country’s president. The bank declined to comment on whether a letter was sent to Jonathan.
“The allegation is unfounded, it is baseless and it has become a political instrument in the current politically charged environment,” Andrew Yakubu, group managing director of the NNPC, told reporters today in Abuja, the capital. All oil revenue has been remitted to the government’s account as “statutorily required,” he said.
The Petroleum Ministry has mandated PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit NNPC revenue, according to the bank, which said a team comprising Finance Ministry, central bank and NNPC officials may also be set up to study the matter.
As well as greater Finance Ministry oversight of oil revenues, the central bank would welcome “improvements in disclosure and transparency in the oil industry,” Okoroafor said in the statement dated yesterday.
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