BusinessDay

Edo moves to implement PIA in oil-producing communities

The Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, has urged oil and gas stakeholders to brainstorm ways to ensure effective implementation of the Petroleum lndustry Act (PIA) for sustainable peace.

Obaseki spoke at the weekend in Benin City during a stakeholders’ forum organised by Ethan Uzamere, the Edo State commissioner for mining, oil and gas, where he called for more collaboration between stakeholders in the sector and host communities so as to promote prosperity in oil-rich areas of the state.

The governor, represented by Monday Osaigbovo, his commissioner for local government affairs, said the meeting was geared towards finding ways to strengthen the process of the PIA implementation as well as set a foundation to develop Edo State policy for the industry.

“The oil and gas sector till date is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy and, as such, there is a need to evaluate its contributions to communities and the state at large,” Obaseki said.

Uzamere, the convener of the forum, on his part, said that the state government was at the forefront in the implementation of the PIA, adding that the ministry is utilising the forum to set a foundation for the development of a comprehensive working policy for the sector.

Read also: Petroleum industry in confusion as FG plans to amend new PIA

He also said that the Host Community Development Trust, a provision of the PIA, would guarantee benefits for the communities only if cooperation and peace were promised in the areas of operations.

“The act seeks to promote the ease of doing business in the oil and gas industry, regulating the midstream and downstream sector, as well as making clear the roles of all players in the sector. It provides for fast approvals of licences to investors, removes bureaucratic bottlenecks to end fuel importation and subsidies while strengthening the value of the Naira and creating job opportunities in the petroleum value chain, among others.

“One of the most important offshoot of the act is that it seeks to guarantee a better and more impactful host community relations. Under this act, oil companies are to make yearly contributions of three per cent (3%) of their yearly operating expenditure to the trust, geared towards improving the standard of living of the host community as well as guaranteeing accountability in the management of developmental funds,” Uzamere said.

He, therefore, identified building a robust collaboration with security agencies to protect investments in oil and gas across the state, encouraging community partnerships and engagement, and ensuring that local content is given priority in every segment of the industry as some of the ways to entrench the gains of the act for the benefit of the people.

Representatives of some of the host communities drawn from the three oil-producing areas of the state thanked the Edo State government for engaging key actors in bringing the desired growth and development to the state.