Nigerian Lawmakers to Probe Claim $17 Billion of Oil Stolen

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s lower house of parliament ordered an investigation into whether $17 billion of fuel exports were stolen.

Most of the oil and liquefied natural gas ended up in the U.S. and some went to China and Norway between 2011 and 2014, Johnson Agbonayinma, a lawmaker, told the House of Representatives in the capital, Abuja, on Thursday. The missing products include about 58 million barrels of oil and 727,000 metric tons of LNG, he said.

“As at today, the country has to its credit over $17 billion of recoverable shortfalls from undeclared crude-oil exports to global destinations,” Agbonayinma said.

More than $12 billion worth of crude has been shipped to the U.S., $3 billion to China and almost $840 million to Norway, while the LNG allegedly stolen was estimated at more than $461 million.

Speaker of the House Yakubu Dogara will appoint members for the panel and a date for them to submit a report. The claim is based on comparing data on U.S. oil imports with those of Nigerian oil exports, Agbonayinma said.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in May 2015, has said that “mind-boggling” sums have been stolen from Nigeria’s oil industry. The economy has been battered by falling prices of oil and gas, which account for about 90 percent of exports and the bulk of government revenue. The economy is heading for its first recession this year since 1991, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The Associated Press reported on Sept. 20 that the government is suing several companies for exporting $12.7 billion of oil to the U.S. illegally between 2011 and 2014.