CIT and the Oil and Gas Industry: Tax Considerations for Upstream and Downstream Operations.


The oil and gas industry is a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, providing a significant portion of the country’s revenue and foreign exchange earnings. Given its strategic importance, the Nigerian government has established a comprehensive tax framework to regulate the taxation of the industry. The Companies Income Tax (CIT) Act along with specific regulations and incentives, governs the tax considerations for both upstream and downstream operations in the oil and gas sector. In this article, we will explore the key tax considerations that companies operating in this industry should be aware of.

Upstream Operations:

Upstream operations involve the exploration, drilling, and production of crude oil and natural gas. Here are some essential tax considerations for upstream companies:

  1. Ring-Fencing: Nigeria employs the concept of “ring-fencing,” which means that income and expenses from upstream activities must be separately accounted for and cannot be offset against income from other business activities.
  2. Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT): Upstream operations are subject to the Petroleum Profit Tax Act, which imposes a specific tax rate on petroleum operations. The tax rate varies depending on the water depth and other factors.
  3. Investment Allowances: Upstream companies can benefit from investment allowances, which allow for the deduction of qualifying capital expenditures from assessable profits.
  4. Gas Utilization: The government encourages gas utilization by offering incentives such as tax holidays for companies involved in gas-related projects.
  5. Tax Stability Agreements: Upstream investors may enter into tax stability agreements with the Nigerian government to provide tax certainty over an agreed period.

Downstream Operations:

Downstream operations in the oil and gas industry encompass activities such as refining, marketing, and distribution of petroleum products. Here are some key tax considerations for downstream companies:

  1. Import Duties and Excise Taxes: Downstream companies are subject to import duties and excise taxes on petroleum products imported into or manufactured in Nigeria.
  2. Value Added Tax (VAT): VAT is applicable to the sale and distribution of petroleum products in Nigeria.
  3. Local Content Requirements: Downstream companies are encouraged to comply with local content requirements, which may offer tax incentives for using locally sourced goods and services.
  4. Regulatory Levies: Companies in the downstream sector may be subject to various regulatory levies and fees imposed by government agencies.
  5. Transfer Pricing: Transfer pricing regulations are crucial for downstream companies especially those engaged in related-party transactions, to ensure compliance with arm’s length pricing rules.
  6. Tax Incentives: Some downstream activities such as investments in petrochemical and gas utilization projects, may be eligible for tax incentives under the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act.


Navigating the tax landscape in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry requires a deep understanding of the CIT Act, sector-specific regulations, and incentives. Upstream and downstream companies must stay compliant with tax laws, maximize available incentives, and engage in efficient tax planning to optimize their tax positions while contributing to Nigeria’s economic growth.

Given the complexity of tax considerations in the oil and gas sector, it is advisable for companies operating in this industry to seek professional tax advisory services. Tax experts can provide valuable insights and guidance to ensure compliance and maximize the benefits of the tax framework in place for the sector.

For professional advice on Accountancy, Transfer Pricing, Tax, Assurance, Outsourcing, online accounting support, Company Registration, and CAC matters, please contact Sunmola David & CO (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners) at Lagos, Ogun state Nigeria offices, You can also reach us via WhatsApp at +2348038460036.