• Reps to pass bill on resumption from break
• Why 2015 budget was not passed
13 March 2015, Abuja – If the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), as prepared by the House of Representatives are adopted and passed into law, then the country’s President would no longer enjoy the discretionary power to award oil blocks.
Also, the Minister of Petroleum Resources would also lose his control over agencies and departments under the Ministry, as the power to recommend the Chief Executives of the agencies to the President would have been stripped off the minister.
However Nigerians are to enjoy more say in the running of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corruption (NNPC) and the Nigerian Gas Company or their successors as a large part of their shares are be sold to Nigerians through public offers at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
These, among others, are contained in the PIB report on the floor of the House in Abuja, yesterday. The Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on PIB, Ishaka Bawa, laid the report at plenary. The report has not been considered or adopted by the House.
Bawa, while presenting the executive summary of the report to the press after plenary, said it took the Committee that was inaugurated on November 15, 2012 over two years to complete its work.
He said the 23-member Committee took cognisance of the technicalities of the sector and the lasting effects the recommendations in the bill are likely to have on Nigerians and stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
The objectives of the bill, according to him, are to create a conducive business environment for petroleum operations, enhance exploration and exploitation of petroleum in Nigeria for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said: “The objectives of the bill amongst others are to optimise domestic gas supplies, particularly for power generation and industrial development as well as establish commercially oriented and profit driven oil and gas entities.’’
It also aims to “deregulate and liberalise the downstream petroleum sector in addition to establish a progressive fiscal framework that encourages further investment in the petroleum industry while optimising revenue accruing to the government”.
He said the Committee scrutinised the 363 sections and anexure in the original bill and made some amendments and recommendations.
The Committee recommended that the discretionary powers of the President to grant petroleum licences and leases as contained in Section 191 of the original bill is completely removed.
In its place, the Committee introduced competitive bidding for the award of such license and leases.
He said: “The rationale behind this ammendment is simply to avoid the practice whereby power for the award of oil blocks was discretionary.
“Whereas the Committee has retained the conventional powers of the Minister under Section 6 of the bill, the powers conferred on the Minister over the control of newly established agencies in the petroleum industry appear to be enormous and capable of undermining the independence of the regulatory agencies.
“Therefore, the Committee in its wisdom has recommended the removal of powers given to the Minister either to serve as Chairman or to recommend to the President the appointment of Chairman of the Boards of such agencies.”