13 March 2016, Abuja – The Nigerian oil and gas sector, which has continued to take a beating from the decline in global oil prices since mid-2014, is desperately in need of a robust legal framework to attract investment, stakeholders have said.
The Petroleum Industry Bill, which was not passed before the end of the previous administration, is expected to be re-packaged and submitted to the current National Assembly.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had recently said the country was losing over $15bn annually as a result of the non-passage of the PIB.
Hope that the bill would be given quick attention by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was rife last year when the new government came on stream.
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, had in February said the National Assembly would introduce its own version of the PIB, having waited for the executive version to no avail.
A former Group Managing Director, NNPC, Chief Chambers Oyibo, told our correspondent on the sidelines of an industry conference that the delay in the passage of the PIB had taken a huge toll on the industry.
Oyibo, who is the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Prime Energy Resources Limited, called for a review of the bill and its urgent passage into law.
He said, “The PIB has a number of aspects. There are institutional reforms, the financial aspect and the tax laws. They should look at it. It is still relevant. Look at what is more relevant now and pass those areas.
“The PIB has done a lot of harm to us because it was not passed for so many years. A lot of people did not invest even when the oil price was high because they didn’t know whether the Federal Government was going to change the laws and the rules in the middle of the game.”
Oyibo said the bill might not be passed in its current state, but that the government “should look at it, refine it and pass it.”
“We should not be delaying too much; we must pass it,” he said.
The Vice President and Treasurer, World Bank, Ms Arunma Oteh, said the Nigerian oil sector had been subjected to outdated and sometimes contradictory laws and provisions.
She noted that efforts had been made in the past to introduce comprehensive legislation that would regulate the oil sector and stipulate clear rules on oil revenue management such as establishing a clear legal mechanism governing the NNPC revenue withholdings.
Oteh, who is the immediate past Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, stated this at the Philip Asiodu Lecture Series in Lagos last month.