(Adds details and background)
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA May 30 Nigeria's upper chamber of
parliament voted on Tuesday to halt a concession agreement with
the local division of Italian oil company Eni to
repair, operate and maintain Port Harcourt refinery, saying the
deal lacked transparency.
Nigeria, an OPEC oil producer, has been seeking investment
in its energy sector to reduce reliance on imported oil products
that consume a large part of the country's foreign currency
It has a refining capacity on paper of 445,000 barrels per
day (bpd), but imports most of its gasoline needs because its
refineries have been shut or running at reduced capacity for
years due to neglect.
Eni said in May it was in talks to work with Nigerian energy
company Oando on the deal as part of an effort to
increase refining levels.
Members of the Senate voted to back the motion brought by
Senator Sabo Mohammed. The motion was titled: "Non-transparent
transaction relating to the planned concession of the Port
Harcourt refinery to Agip and Oando by the Ministry of Petroleum
Resources." Agip is a subsidiary of Eni.
The Senate will now set up an ad hoc committee to
investigate the concession award.
"We are willing and available to provide as much
clarification on the issue as the Senate requires," Oando
spokesman Ainoije Irune said.
Officials at Eni could not immediately be reached for
(Additional reporting by Paul Carsten and Alexis Akwagyiram;
Editing by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman)