23 September 2014, Lagos – Oil and gas industry operators in Nigeria have expressed concerns that the general elections scheduled for February next year and the primary elections holding later this year might distract the members of the National Assembly from the passage of the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Some of the operators also said that as the National Assembly resumed their legislative duties after a short break, legislative attention would also be focused on the escalating Boko Haram insurgency in the north, with little or no consideration for the passage of the reform bill.
The Joint National Assembly Committee on the PIB had since concluded public hearings on the PIB and the bill is awaiting passage at plenary sessions.
Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Oil Limited, operators of Uquo Marginal Oilfield, Mr. Dada Thomas told THISDAY at the weekend that he was not optimistic that the law makers would pass the reform bill within the lifespan of this present National Assembly.
“They have been saying that they will pass it but I am not optimistic. They will be distracted by the general elections and their primary elections and you have also got the Boko Haram insurgency in the mix. So, they will be distracted by a lot of things,” he said.
Thomas further stated that the country needed the passage of the reform bill to boost investments in the oil and gas sector, pointing out that other countries are moving ahead of Nigeria in the development of their hydrocarbon resources due to the uncertainty in Nigeria’s operating environment.
“Angola and other countries are moving fast; Angola has just sold its first condensates from her Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project. Mozambique is discovering gas everywhere and a lot of others. So, the nation needs the passage of the PIB very urgently,” he added.
Speaking on the consequences of the non-passage of the bill by this present National Assembly, Thomas stated that “new investments will continue to wait.”
“You have seen the behaviour of the international oil companies (IOCs). Depending on the risk profile of the IOCs, those who are risk averse will stay away. There are others, who are proceeding with their investments but a lot will wait until the elections are over and the PIB is passed,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of Subsurface Consultants Limited, Mr. Jasper Nwachukwu also told THISDAY that the elections would not allow the National Assembly to debate the passage of the PIB as earlier promised by the law makers.
“They said that they will pass it when they resume. They have resumed. So, let us wait and see but I strongly doubt if they can pass it because elections are around the corner,” he said.
Another Chief Executive Officer of one of the oil services companies, who did not want his name on print because of the sensitive nature of the matter, alleged that the National Assembly members are no longer working together to pass the PIB.
According to him, the members are now pursuing diverse interests, which will not augur well for the passage of the PIB.
“They are no longer working together because of the elections. They are now working for different people and cannot work together to pass the PIB because they no longer have common interest,” he said.
He also noted that investors are no longer putting money on new investments due to the uncertainty created by the non-passage of the reform bill.
– This Day