The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission on Saturday threatened to revoke the licences of oil and gas operators that failed to remit the statutory three per cent to host communities in the Niger Delta region by the end of September 2023.
The NUPRC said this in a statement made available.
In the statement, the management of the NUPRC faulted the continued delay by operators to remit the statutory fees as contained in section 235 of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.
The statutory provision of the PIA regarding the annual contribution of operators in the industry, under Section 240 (2) of the PIA, 2021, is very clear; and it states that “Each settlor, where applicable through the operator, shall make an annual contribution to the applicable host communities development trust fund of an amount equal to 3% of its actual annual operating expenditure of the preceding financial year in the upstream petroleum operations affecting the host communities for which the applicable host communities development trust fund was established”.
The Commission said in the statement that the grave implications of operators’ denial to meet their obligations to host communities is that it would hamper upstream operations in the affected areas.
The statement reads, “The attention of management of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has been drawn to the agitation by host communities in the oil and gas producing areas of the Niger Delta region over the delay by industry settlors/operators in remitting the statutory fees governed by Section 235 of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021.
“The Commission is fully aware of the implications of this development if allowed to fester.
“The agitation might frustrate the Commission’s efforts at up-scaling the drive for higher foreign exchange and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.
“Incidentally and quite unfortunately, it is also capable of truncating efforts at stabilizing the value of the Naira and attaining the much-desired rebound in our national economy and improving our macro-economic status.
Unfortunately, it said this has been neglected by those concerned, thereby stoking avoidable agitations.
It added, “The settlors are therefore required to perform their obligation, to commence remittance of the statutory 3% contribution.
“The Commission notes that remittance of the statutory contribution which should have served as succour to the host communities has sadly become a source of pain to the lawful beneficiaries.
“This has now given impetus to actions that might affect smooth upstream operations within affected host communities; a situation that could have been addressed through routine social inclusion.
“Although the ultimate regulatory sanction as enshrined in Section 238 of the PIA is the revocation of assets, the Commission has been careful not to compound the already low level of investment and divestment rate and further impacting negatively on production levels and the Federation revenue. It rather chose to draw a balance and be strategic in the implementation of the provisions of the law.
“The relevant section states that ‘Unless as otherwise provided for in this Act, failure by any holder of a licence or lease governed by this Act to comply with its obligations under this Chapter, after having been informed of such failure in writing by the Commission or Authority as the case may be, may be grounds for revocation of the applicable licence.’
“Therefore defaulting operators (settlors) under PIA 2021 (section 235) are advised to do the needful by fulfilling their obligations and remitting the outstanding arrears without further delay as the Commission might be compelled by emerging circumstances to fully apply the law.
“Notice is hereby served that in a situation where defaults are not remedied by the end of September 2023, the Commission would have no option but to revoke the licence of the defaulting settler/operator.”