London — Nigeria has ordered foreign oil and gas companies to pay nearly $20bn in taxes it says are owed to local states, industry and government sources said, in a move that could deter investment in Africa’s largest economy. In a letter sent to the companies earlier in 2019 via a debt-collection arm of the government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) cited what it called outstanding royalties and taxes for oil and gas production. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil , Eni, Total and Equinor were each asked to pay the central government between $2.5bn and $5bn, said the sources. Norway’s Equinor, which produced around 45,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil in Nigeria in 2017, confirmed the request. “Several operators have received similar claims in a case between the authorities in Nigeria and local authorities in parts of the country,” an Equinor spokesperson said.

Exxon “is currently reviewing the matter”, a spokesperson for the US company said. Shell, Total, Eni...

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