13 April 2016, Abuja – The Senate has begun the process of passing into law, the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB as it Wednesday passed the first reading at the floor of the upper chambers.
The controversial bill which is called the Petroleum Industry and Governance Bill (PIGB), seeks to give the country’s oil and gas industry, a comprehensive legal framework, just as it would also provide the basis for the unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into five independent commercial entities.
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives had harmonised the bill before Wednesday’s action by the Senate which makes it the third time it would pass first reading in the Senate.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives had recently harmonised a new draft of PIB and renamed it PIGB following a prolonged silence by the presidency on the bill as well as continued agitation for its passage by the citizenry.
Speaking yesterday Senate President Bukola Saraki who noted that the legislature adopted the Petroleum Industry Bill as one of its legislative agenda, said that the 8th Senate under his watch would pass the bill as that would help stimulate the nation’s economy.
Meanwhile, the Senate today asked its Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream), Finance and Appropriation to immediately commence the investigation of joint venture cash calls by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The Senate also expressed concern over an allegation that the NNPC had been violating rules governing its joint venture cash call responsibility and consequently asked its committee to investigate the allegation.
The Senate then asked the committee to come up with sanctions for any known violation of appropriation acts in the oil and gas sector.
Senate resolutions were sequel to a motion by Senator Bassey Akpan, PDP, Akwa Ibom North-east).
Akpan in the motion alleged persistent constraints by NNPC to meet its cash call obligations, a situation he said had worsened the country’s crude oil production output and other activities in the oil and gas sector.
Senator Akpan who put the current outstanding cash call obligations in the oil and gas sector at $6 billion, stressed that cash calls ought to be treated as first line items by NNPC prior to its remittance of available balance in its collectible revenues from crude sales to the federation account.