9 November, sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigerian Senate has initiated a series of meetings with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and some multinational oil companies in the country to address the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and other issues relating to reforms in the oil and gas sector.
The meetings with the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) are directed at driving reforms in the sector.
They are also focusing on removing the secrecy that surrounds the operations of the oil majors and government agencies as well as in bringing down the cost of doing business in the petroleum industry towards improving investment in the sector.
A source disclosed to Sweetcrudereports that the committee had already met with some oil majors in the upstream sector, including Shell, Agip and Total before the Wednesday November, 2 Senate recess.
Other meetings are upcoming.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Emmanuel Paulker told Sweetcrudereports that it was the mandate of the Committee to ensure the removal of high cost of business in the sector, as well as to ensure that operators comply with government policies within the sector.
He further noted that the Senate was determined to remove the secrecy attached to operations in the nation’s oil sector.
Paulker said his committee was, for instance, aware that over time, the cost of doing business in Nigeria’s petroleum industry has grown to become one of the highest in the world, adding that, this was in spite of the fact that the factors often cited to justify such higher costs no longer existed.
He also observed: “The committee is aware that the industry is traditionally considered to be opaque, secretive and guarded. This is so especially with regard to the operations of the policy and regulatory agencies as well as even major oil companies both foreign and indigenous”.
Urging everyone charged with regulatory, policy or operational responsibility in the industry to cooperate fully with his committee in the discharge of its functions, he called for practices that would promote growth and development in the sector.
He said: “Let us wave goodbye to hide and seek, to disobedience to lawful requests for information and invitations and to such other irritable attitudes that often generate rancour and acrimony.”
The committee chairman stated that unlike any other time, the Nigerian petroleum industry was currently at a crossroads, pointing out that as the backbone of the Nigerian economy, the industry was expected to generate the vast proportion of government revenue through the provision of adequate power supply and employment of our teeming population of youths.
But, he observed that challenges facing the industry today were enormous and listed these to include widespread uncertainty about the state of the on-going reforms in the industry with the non-passage of the PIB, slow-down of investment in virtually all aspects of the industry, impediments to the vigorous implementation of the Nigerian Content Act, and low growth of our oil and gas reserves.
Others, he said, were the confusion surrounding the renewal of leases held by some oil companies; the problems surrounding divestment of assets to Nigerian companies as well as environmental and community issues.
According to Paulker, “All these constitute major challenges to the smooth operation of the industry and the delivery of expected dividends to our country.”