The dwindling price of crude oil in the international market reinforces the need for the revival of the Petroleum industry Bill (PIB), the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
According to Kachikwu, the bill, which has been pending before the national assembly for seven years, requires extensive engagements with all stakeholders to iron out all grey areas.
Kachikwu spoke while chairing a special session on the proposed law at the ongoing 55th annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, titled ‘Legal and Regulatory Framework of the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria: Review of existing Laws and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)’.
He described the bill as an essential legislation which must be approached with all the seriousness and thoroughness it deserves.
“PIB is a serious affair, it is an essential piece of legislation but as we all know a lot of engagement is required to address all the issues because the oil and gas environment has changed,” he said.
“There are issues of cost; with oil going down to $40 per barrel, the PIB cannot be the same.”
He explained that due to the volume of extensive consultation and time required to make the bill a workable document, it is only natural to kick-start the reforms in the industry with the existing laws while waiting for the eventual passage of the proposed law.
“The reform of the petroleum industry is key and it is an area where we are going to put a lot of focus,” he said.
“Transparency is key. Restructuring is key. Sometimes people don’t realise that the problem hasn’t been NNPC, it is a problem of political will to go forward and implement the outcome of researches and reports that had been done but fortunately for us this time around, that is what the president has brought to the table. He has strong political will to see this through.”
Commenting on what the federal government intends to do with the draft legislation, Kachikwu assured the public that PIB has come to stay though it would take a bit of time to perfect the draft.
“PIB is important, but we need to x-ray the issues. We need at least one year to get it back on track,” he said.
“The reality is that we cannot afford to wait any longer for change in the petroleum sector because of the delay in the passage of PIB, things have got to start happening and that’s exactly what we are doing.”
The omnibus law for the petroleum industry is designed to reform the oil and gas sector, which gives Nigeria over 90% of its forex earnings as well as over 60% of national spending.
Industry experts believe the delay in passing the bill has created uncertainty in the country’s oil and gas industry, leading to the loss of over $80 billion in fresh investments, with investors unsure of the regulatory, political and economic conditions under which they will operate.