L- R – Prof Wumi lledare (President of the Nigerian Association for Energy Economics, NAEE), Adeyemi Akisanya ( Principal Partner, Adeyemi Akisanya & Associates), Godswill Ihetu (Chairman , The Petroleum Club, Lagos), Dr. Emmanual Egbogah ( Chairman, Emerald Energy Resources Limited), Mr. Osten Olorunsola – ( Former Director, Department of Petroleum Resources), Dr. Adeoye Adefulu ( Engery Partner , Managing Editor Petroleum Industry Bill).
Nigeria’s prestigious professional oil and gas club, Petroleum Club (PC) had a workshop recently in Lagos to examine the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The bill has been split into four elements. In his remarks at the workshop, the Chairman of PC, Dr. Godwill Ihetu was of the view that: “As you are well aware a new reform of the petroleum industry which was supposed to take the sector to greater heights commenced in year 2000. The objective of the reform was to ensure that the management of the country’s petroleum resources was in line with global best practices.”
The Chairman submitted that since the year 2000, the process has encountered one obstacle or the other. According to him, the continued delays of the passage of the PIB, as the policy reform document came to be known, created a climate of policy uncertainty in the management of the petroleum sector in Nigeria. He noted that “This lack of policy clarity has led to a reduced level of new investments which went elsewhere.” In addition, regulations were weak and outdated and needed to be strengthened and updated. He was hopeful that the new four elements of PIB, when it becomes law, will address shortcomings in Nigeria’s petroleum industry.
Besides, Ihetu maintained that one of the reasons for the delay in passing the PIB was the shear size of the document. The former document had two hundred and ninety pages which the 8th National Assembly (NASS) decided to break up into four sections.
He explained further to PC members that in March, NASS finally passed the governance aspect of the bill which has been transmitted to President Mohammadu Buhari for his assent. The Chairman opined that the Club was deliberating on the document which appears to be a done deal but “Our response is that until the President gives his assent, the document remains a Bill which is still subject to amendment by the President. Ideas emanating from this workshop could still be incorporated in the PIGB before it becomes an Act.”
Addressing PC members, Ihetu observed that no deal has been done on the other three parts of the PIB, “We, as members of the Petroleum Club have been given the opportunity to be the first to consider the draft of these three Bills. Reviewing these drafts will allow us to better understand and articulate our memoranda in time for the public hearings which are to be held by NASS.” Concerned about the state of the oil industry in Nigeria, Ihetu told PC members that this will not be the first time the Club would be submitting a memorandum and appearing at the public hearings of the National Assembly to consider the earlier versions of the PIB.
The Chairman said the bill is a national business which must be taken seriously and ideas proffered in the workshop will be finally translated into memoranda and submitted to the Presidency.
Oil industry professionals who attended the workshop include Osten Olorunshola, who is a consultant to NASS on the PIB, Dr Emmanuel Egbogah, former Adviser to Presidents Obasanjo and Yar’Adua among others. Egbogah drafted the first version of the PIB.
In his Responding to presentations made at the workshop, Frank Edozie, CEO of NECONDE, an indigenous oil company opined that the bill is significant to operators due to challenges faced from host communities. Edozie noted that community chiefs and some few people usually hold operators to ransom especially on personal matters of which oil communities have no business in involving. According to the NECONDE boss, “Once the bills have been passed, operators will breathe a sigh of relief from unscrupulous elements and save the industry.”
However, PC members and stakeholders who attended the workshop urged parties involved in the process to expedite action on the bill so that the country will have virile documents to guide the industry and create investments opportunities which it has been denied for some time.