The Chief Operating Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation set tongues wagging when he revealed to the House of Representatives that he did not know the number of oil blocks Nigeria has.
Bello Rabiu appeared before the House committee investigating the controversial Malabu oil deal and OPL 245 on Tuesday afternoon.
After telling the committee that the NNPC was not directly involved in the controversial deal, Mr. Rabiu was asked to give details of Nigeria’s oil fields.
Razak Atunwa, the chairman of the committee, said he posed the question because he believed it would help lawmakers to determine Nigeria’s oil revenue prospects amidst the lingering financial crisis.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Mr. Rabiu said.
Mr. Rabiu said statistics about oil prospecting licences and oil mining licences were not kept with the NNPC, but the Department of Petroleum Resources and directed lawmakers to contact the department for the information.
Mr. Rabiu also told the committee that the NNPC Act gave the Minister of Petroleum the absolute power to exercise discretion on award of oil licences.
“The NNPC Act, even till today, clearly stated that the minister can award oil exploration licences at his discretion,” Mr. Rabiu said.
The licence for the OPL 245 oil field was awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. in April 1998 by a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete. The oil firm was later traced to the minister.