The Nigerian government has lodged a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against international oil firms operating in the country, for alleged illegal oil exports.
The authorities are suing Chevron, Eni, Total, Shell, and Petrobras for illegally exporting crude oil worth $12.7 billion in the years between 2011 and 2014. Exxon may also join the list of defendants, according to reports.
According to government officials, the five multinationals only declared 57 million barrels of crude as exports for the period, bound for the U.S. However, there were differences in the amounts declared at departure and arrival, and some loads were not declared at all upon departure.
The Federal High Court in Lagos begins hearings next week.
This developments put the country’s oil regulator on the spot. Earlier this year, a government audit revealed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had failed to pay the state $16 billion in oil revenues. Later on, another $2.3 billion were uncovered to have not been paid into the Treasury Single Account.
The controversy comes amid renewed militancy against international firms by militias in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
Infrastructure belonging to the companies has routinely been vandalized and workers abducted.