• Friday, May 24, 2024
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N/Assembly says PIB will stop discretionary allocation of oil acreage

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The National Assembly has said that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) when passed would be devoid of using oil acreage as political patronage by the government, assuring that the PIB would be passed before the end of the year.

It also promised that it would want to pass a bill that is free of political interferences and arbitrariness from the executive and the legislative arms of government.

According to the lawmakers, who spoke on the PIB as it relates to investments in the oil and gas industry at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, the bill would stop the arbitrariness that have been associated with the award of oil blocks, adding that the bill would state the conditions under which the executive can give discretionary allocation of oil blocks.

Speaking at the event, Samson Osagie, deputy chairman, House of Representatives committee on PIB, said that the national interest would not be compromised while dealing with the Bill.

He said the Bill is intended to ensure transparency and a fiscal regime that would not be too hash to industry operators, adding that even though the National Assembly wants government revenue to be maximised it would not take steps that would drive away investors from the country.

He expressed the international oil companies’ (IOCs) concerns over the terms in the PIB and promised to ensure that the country’s petroleum resources is maximised to the benefit of every stakeholder in the oil and gas sector.

“We are aware of the importance of gas to the country’s economic development and most especially to the manufacturing sector. No leading economy in the world is dependent on generators for the manufacturing sector to thrive. We will ensure that the content of the PIB favours investment in the gas sector so as to boost the capacity of the manufacturing sector”.

“We want a PIB regime where authorities that are supposed to regulate the system are not compromised. We do not want PIB where oil acreages are used as political patronage; we want a Bill where all local participation is increased”, he said.

The National Assembly member said that the committee would insert a clause in the PIB which would compel the government to ensure that the refineries work and encourage diversification of investment in the downstream sector of the country’s oil and gas sector.

In his own comment, Paulker Izibefien Emmanuel, chairman of the Senate committee on petroleum (upstream), said that the Bill would definitely take care of all the concerns expressed by the stakeholders.

“I agree with what my colleague in the House said because we are working towards the same goal for the benefit of Nigerians. We would scrutinise the Bill”, he opined.

Also at the event, Mark Ward, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil, who also represented the Oil Producing Trade Group (OPTS), described the Bill as ambitious, complex, laden with uncertainty and time consuming in implementation, adding that it has extreme complexity with objective to transform the entire oil and gas industry.

Ward added that the PIB lacked clarity in implementation including lack of transition plan. 

OLUSOLA BELLO,

Houston, Texas