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.
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