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Oil majors give reasons for new optimism on Petroleum Industry Bill

For the first time there seems to be a consensus among the international oil companies and  government officials over the Petroleum Industry Bill  (PIB) as chief executives of oil  majors in the country spoke in unionism expressing their optimism that the current works on the bill would lead to a win win situation for both the government and the industry.

This  is  a clear departure  from the  usual antagonist posture often put up by the  oil companies and complaints that the outcome of the bill may not be favourable to them and may discourage investments because of the fiscal regime contained in the previous bill.

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The chief executives who spoke at a panel session at the ongoing Nigeria International Petroleum Summits (NIPS) said even though they are yet to know what the fiscal regimes are in the current bill, they were all of the view that the current level of interactions between them and government agencies concerned with PIB would produce a document that would move the industry forward. They were reacting to the issue of whether the bill would be passed in to law or not in June this year, as stated by the minister of  State for Petroleum Timipre  Slyva

Osagie Okunbor, the country chairman for Shell Companies and managing of Shell Petroleum Development Company said given the 20 years history of the PIB, he thinks, it is a valid concern people have raised.  “What is the reality this time and if it does not happen what does it hold for investment appetite,” he asked.

He said : “I think we operate at proximate level with  the   institutions  of the  state  who are responsible  for this not the least  the  group managing  director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, sitting here, the minister of state for Petroleum, Timipre Slyva who was with us yesterday and even senators Bassey Akpan, chairman Gas  committee in the Senate.”

He said there are reasons to be very optimistic that the time line both the minister of state for Petroleum and the Senator Bassy  Akpan spoke extensively about  for the passage of the bill which is June  this year would be realistic.

Beyond passing the bill is the other issue of what is in bill he said. He further asked if  the bill is a necessarily an investor friendly one that the declared intensions of Nigeria is balanced  against the sensible returns for the investors.

The Shell boss said: “I will say having been close to three or four past regimes  on PIB, I am  probably most confident, and I am saying  it pretty open that this time around there is better chance of it being passed,  not just passing it, but  passed on pretty decent collaborative discussions and if in the  course of doing  this we have  disagreement we shout to the public  domain that this is not going  well. But, so far, he said a lot of credit  should go to both the group managing director of NNPC and the minister of state for Petroleum because things are going quiet well.

Paul McGrath, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil said probably more than any time in the past the industry have   some of the most mature and productive  discussions with the key players just to ensure that both parties work in  collaborative manners that the PIB happens. “Not just that it happens. But it happens in a manner that supports investments

He said  with the new PIB Nigeria will attract investors as other  countries in Africa  which  currently have more friendly fiscal  regimes which are already attracting investments, because she  has the best resources available and she just has to make sure that  she attract  investments that will drive these resources.

Jeff Ewing, managing director of Chevron Nigeria Limited said he sees as the spring board of an industry  friendly bill in 2020. I think 2020 would be looked at in years to come and be described as the year that Nigeria takes that leap forward.

He said getting an industry friendly bill would absolutely be a catalyst and he is looking forward to work with Federal Government in order to realise that.


Olusola Bello and Harrison Edeh

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