AITEO, SAHARA REPORTERS AND THE TALE OF OIL SWAP FRAUD (1)
By Walter Duru
Published June 14th, 2015
Recently, a Nigerian blog-Sahara Reporters devoted
virtual space to a piece titled: Oil Swap Fraud: Aiteo,
alleged Front for GEJ and Diezani, in Buhari’s
Cross-hairs. In the piece, Aiteo is alleged to be a
front for some “corrupt” activities of President
Jonathan and the Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani
Quoting a leaked Energy Compass report, the blog opined
that “the energy company, Aiteo could be headed for a
It alluded that “Aiteo signed a two-year Offshore
Processing Agreement- OPA in November that took effect
in January, to deliver products against roughly 950,000
barrel cargoes a month. A general rule of thumb equates
approximately 120,000 tons of gasoline or kerosene to
each standard cargo of crude. Contracts seen by Energy
Compass outside a process requiring the counterparty to
specify products and parcel sizes, delivery date range
and discharge port within a week of loading the crude.
Aiteo’s contract requires products to be supplied within
two months of crude loading.”
The report further alleged that by late March, Aiteo was
more than 20 cargoes in arrears on the new deal.
In what appears like speaking from the both sides of the
mouth, it acknowledged that “analyzing these complex
arrangements is not easy”, but merely suspected that
Aiteo was casual in following contract process.
Reacting to the development, Aiteo’s Executive
Consultant, Corporate Communications, Dr. Peter Esuh
described the report as baseless, insisting that the
company is a good corporate citizen, whose antecedents
Esuh, an Associate Professor of communication described
the report as “a sponsored unprofessional conjecture by
He frowned at what he further described as the absence
of professionalism and accuracy in the report and urged
relevant public institutions to rise to the challenge of
promoting professional conducts by media practitioners.
“Unfortunately, the absence of a control mechanism to
check the irresponsibility of online journalism in
Nigeria has not helped matters, as the platforms have
become veritable tools for blackmail and deceit; little
wonder many refer to them as rumour mills. The earlier,
the Federal government steps up its actions against this
gross irresponsibility, the better,” Esuh stressed.
In an earlier press statement, signed by Aiteo’s Vice
President, Mr. Francis Peters, Aiteo described the
assumptions by the online newspaper as lacking in
Also clearing the air on another similar publication,
Aiteo Energy Resources Limited refuted a news story that
it was indicted by a report of the Nigerian Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on crude oil
swaps during the company’s presentation to the Joint
House Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Downstream and
In a statement by the company’s Deputy Managing
Director, Mr. Francis Peters, Aiteo said no report had
ever indicted it in its history, adding it had always
been found above board by any panel of the federal
government or report.
“Despite the intensity of the probe by the Hon. Farouk
Lawan Committee on Subsidy and the Aig-Imokhuede
Committee, we were never indicted by anyone of them. We
see this as a deliberate attempt to smear the good image
of our company.”
“In addition, in no way can our presentation before the
House committee be deemed as confirming the NEITI
Peters added that the company “strongly contested the
values communicated by NEITI as being the value of the
over/under deliveries of refined products to NNPC, and
went ahead to report what the true and fair values
should be as per past reconciliation exercises with NNPC.
At no time did Aiteo accept an under-delivery of
193,046,590 litres of product.”
He said that as part of its ongoing commercial
relationship with NNPC, it had different moving
balances, reiterating that none of these balances
represented a past due obligation.
“Furthermore, it is imperative that NEITI issues a
corrected report centred on the contract guiding the
operations of this swap agreement and reflecting global
best trade practices.
“Aiteo remains a responsible company which has continued
its operations in line with international best practices
and remains highly committed to growing the Nigerian
energy sector, creating employment and adding great
value to the Nigerian economy.”
“Any implication that Aiteo has failed to fulfill its
contract obligations in these or any other manner is
false. Aiteo has met all obligations and administers
these agreements in total compliance with contract
terms, Nigerian law, and best industry practice. To
suggest otherwise betrays a lack of understanding of the
complex nature of procuring and delivering petroleum
“Aiteo is committed to developing Nigerian-owned energy
resources using the highest global standards in full
compliance with all laws and regulations. We have earned
global reputation and will protect it from defamatory
actions in court if necessary,” the deputy managing
The company had earlier explained that the differences
observed in the audit report of the Nigeria Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) were due to a
30-day lag in the delivery of the petroleum products.
Findings however revealed that the company lifted a
total of 10,231,122 barrels of crude oil valued at
$1.170,732,027.62 and supplied refined products worth
$1,111,972,698.18.18 in year 2011.
At the last reconciliation exercise with PPMC, Duke
Oil/Aiteo Energy Resources Ltd had lifted 26,425,738
barrels of crude oil from 2011; valued at
$3,010,308,113.08 and supplied refined products valued
at $2,976,663,203.01” as at June 2013.”
In the light of the above, it is obvious that two basic
elements, which are accuracy and balance, are missing in
the reports under review. It is either that those
peddling the rumour of fraud in Aiteo’s transactions are
ignorant or mischievous. Organisations are sanctioned if
found wanting and not by wishful thinking and/or
spreading of outright falsehood.
If, as at today, the company has not been indicted by
any government agency or committee, one now wonders the
source of the tale of fraud in the company’s
However, Nigerians and corporate organisations must
always take advantage of the Nigerian Press Council to
seek redress for such malicious publications.
The laws establishing the Council should also be
strengthened, to effectively check online journalism.
The Judiciary is also at our service towards tackling
Most importantly, media practitioners must desist from
allowing ‘brown envelopes’ to influence their reportage;
but always be guided by professional ethics and conducts
in the interest of the society.
This irresponsibility in Journalism practice must stop!
To be continued!