GOV’T-To audit oil and gas firms

By John Agok

For the first time the country held a comprehensive Audit plan for all operating Oil and Gas Companies in a bid to ascertain the scope of the fact findings. The move includes checking the environment, production cost and financial behaviors in the sector.

The move has been necessitated by the order through UN Security Council Resolution number 2206 (20150)which appointed five experts to serve on the panel of oil and gas production in South Sudan.

The five UNSC experts are to monitor and report to the UN Council the work and findings of the seven member committee appointed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit to dig deeper and recommend the possible ways of improving the sector. The appointees will work within the laws governing the National Petroleum and Gas Commission.

Among them arethe Minister of Presidential Affairs as the Chairperson. Chairperson of the National Petroleum and Gas Commission as the Deputy chair.Auditor General of the National Audit Chamber as the Member.Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.Director General of the general Intelligence Bureau, National Security Service and Director General of Exploration and Production, Nilepet Corporation.

During the meeting, Mr. Caesar Ohila Marko the Deputy Chair of the Oversight Committee assured the public that, the Comprehensive Audit Plan will go on as directed by the President of the Republic to find out scope audit of oil and Gas from its operating companies in the near future.

“The scope of Audit will look at Environmental audit, Financial Audit and Production cost including tools used, whether outdated tools have been used or not. It will also find out effectiveness of private sectors in oil and gas industry and this evaluation will inform the decision makers,especially the government to do some reforms in the future,”Mr. Ohila explained.

Mr. Ohila revealed that the Comprehensive Audit plan will take long to get final reports, since this process will be involving Sudan to avail some necessary data on petroleum companies.

“Mind you, Sudan needs to get involved in auditing process since it has historical records on Oil production. The outcome of this audit plan will bear consequences from operating petroleum companies if need be in the near future,” he added.

Meanwhile, Stephen Wondu who is the Auditor General and a member ruled out the soonest of their reports from Audit findings.

“Auditors do not start with preset idea or rather concur with prejudgment things. We do go with justifications and Verification mechanisms and we account to fact findings. We cannot report or comment on alleged statements or documents,” he underscored.

The Government hired AlexStwart International, an American Based Company on the 6th of August 2020 to review the operation of contracted oil and Gas Companies and partners in South Sudan.

However, the Constitution and National Security apparatus assured the protection of Oil production as a commodity by ensuring that, the bidding contract for oil and Gas companies is in line with popularly public demand.

These Oversight Committee meeting with Oil and Gas Companies came in as a wake upcall from UN Security Council letter signed by the Coordinator for Panel of Experts on South Sudan extended pursuant to Security Council resolutions2521 (2020). This letter was addressedto the Secretary General in appointing five experts of Panels to acquire information from DPOC as operating oil Company that is expected to depositing such finance to Bank of South Sudan (BOSS).

The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), The petroleum Revenue Management Act(2012) and the  Petroleum Act (2012) states that the petroleum revenue, which includes Surface rental fees, shall not be paid into any account other than that managed by the Bank of South Sudan. In addition, the Panel notes the explicit requirement in the Petroleum Act (2012) that such payments are to be disclosed and published by licenses, contractors and sub-contractors such as DPOC.

It is not clear when the findings of this Audit will soon be availed to the public.

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