29 January 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The Federal Government has been urged to especially commence new projects in the oil and gas sector, while it consolidates on the gains achieved in the sector in 2017.
Chairman, PENGASSAN and NUPENG Joint Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, told our correspondent that the oil industry fared better in 2017 than the previous year 2016 and 2015.
Onuegbu who is a former Chairman of Trade Union Congress in Rivers State explained that there was an increase in oil production in 2017, as well as a progressive increase in the global price of crude oil, which variably meant more revenue for the government.
He advised that the peace experienced in the Niger Delta in 2017 should be sustained by the government this year, adding that it is the expectation of every industry player to see more progress in the oil and gas sector, especially the commencement of new projects in the sector.
According to him, “We expect that this year there should be a consolidation on the gains of 2017 and of course expanding the frontiers to new areas as well as the coming of new oil and gas projects.
“We also expect that the peaceful cordial environment in the oil and gas industry that has led to increases in oil production should continue so that we will not go back to the recession which was caused largely by a reduction in the production of crude oil.”
Onuegbu regretted that the legislative framework which would boost investors confidence in the sector was not passed in 2017, but expressed optimism that the PIB and every other aspect of the bill would be passed and assented by Q1 of this year.
The Former National Industrial Relations Officer of PENGASSAN explained that passing the PIB and other concomitant segments of the bill are the most important steps toward addressing the challenges in the oil and gas industry and also to boost investors’ confidence.
He, however, said it was disappointing that Nigerians were made to an experienced shortage of fuel in the festive period of 2017 and January 2018 and urged the Federal Government to address the fuel issue squarely.
“In May 2017, the Senate passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB; we had expected that the House of Reps would have concurrently passed it too, and it should have been assented to by the President in 2017, and then all the other aspect of the bill passed.
“So our expectation is to pass the other aspects of the PIB vis-a-vis Petroleum Host Community Bill, Petroleum Administration Bill and Petroleum Fiscal Bill.
“Although the Senate has said these bills will be passed in Q1 of this year, it is our hope that before the end of this first quarter, the Senate and the House of Reps would pass those bills because we know that politics will soon start, with primaries fixed for April and May.
“This year, we expect that if the legislative framework is laid, we expect to see more investment in private refineries. We expect that by the end of the year, the Dangote refinery would have gone to advanced stage such that production could start in 2019 as expected,” Onuegbu said.