Nigeria to launch draft oil bill within six weeks

21 February 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Nigerian Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said Tuesday that a new draft of a bill to reform the country’s oil and gas industry would be submitted to parliament for consideration within the next six weeks.

“Hopefully, within the next six weeks, the new draft is going to be passed on to the National Assembly,” the minister told delegates at an industry conference in Abuja.

Uncertainty over the Petroleum Investment Bill, Nigeria’s long-delayed reform plan, has put billions of dollars of potential investment on hold.

Company executives have said it was difficult to make commitments without clarity over the terms of bill, which will change the fiscal and regulatory framework in the OPEC member.

Though Alison-Madueke did not discuss the details of the modifications, analysts say that the fiscal regime in the new bill is likely to be less stringent.

Oil companies operating in Nigeria have repeatedly called for urgent measures to be put in place to help develop the country’s deepwater sector.

Ian Craig, executive vice president of Shell Exploration and Production, said measures need to be put in place to help develop the country’s deepwater sector, which is now lagging behind Angola in terms of exploration activity.

“Nigeria’s deepwater development has been impressive, but when compared with Angola, it is clear that the pace is below of development is well below Nigeria’s full potential,” Craig said.

Craig also said exports of 150,000 b/d are now at risk following repeated sabotage of pipelines by suspected thieves.

“The greatest challenge is the massive organized oil theft business and the criminality and corruption which it fosters,” he told delegates at the annual conference. “This drives away talent, both Nigerian and international, increases costs, reduces revenues to both investors and the government and results in major environmental impacts.”

Shell earlier this month said that there had been increased crude theft on the new Nembe Creek Trunkline, while thieves also continued to target eight of its production manifolds in southern Rivers and Bayelsa states.

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