Petroleum Downstream Group of LCCI through the chairman, Emma Osagie
The Organised Private Sector (OPS), under the umbrella of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has called on players in the petroleum downstream sector to intensify effort to see that their interests are well-captured in the new Petroleum Industry Bill, which is still awaiting passage by the National Assembly.
The Petroleum Downstream Group of LCCI through the chairman, Emma Osagie, called for an x-ray of the Draft and what investors stood to gain once the PIB, which got its first reading in 2008, is passed.
The President of the Chamber, Goodie Ibru, who also spoke at the Group’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Symposium held in Lagos, remarked that because the petroleum industry was crucial to the economy, regulations must be congruent with international standards.
“This is coming at a very opportune time when the Bill has not yet been passed and there is still time for the downstream sector to lobby for their interest and that of the people, because they are closer to the people. The right thing must be done by all the stakeholders in order to continue attracting foreign investors. Any disruption in the industry is also likely to ground the economy,” he warned.
In her presentation, Energy lawyer and Lecturer in the University of Ibadan, Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, said that reform is impossible without a legislation that empowers, encourages and sustains desired activities that will create an investor friendly environment.
“It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to create a viable and vibrant investment environment and the only way to achieve that is for everyone to contribute to the process especially during the drafting,” she said.
She said that the new PIB does not contain much change for the downstream sector, stressing that she did not see how it is going to stimulate investment if eventually passed.
“It needs more clarity and certainty because that is what will give the much-needed assurance to investors. To promote growth, efficiency and private sector participation, those in the downstream sector ought to be more involved in the draft process,” she said.
She said that Nigeria would never be a developed country as long as she has this comatose and dysfunctional downstream sector, and therefore urged the downstream sector to strategise so that at the end of the day the outcome would be an advantage to them.
In his remarks, one of the discussants and Principal Partner Lube-services Associates, Mr. Kayode Sote, noted that the downstream represents the welfare of the people while the upstream is predominantly concerned with exploration.
“We need a balanced downstream to complement the upstream, the long queues at the filling stations today can be checked with a balanced downstream,” he said.
Sote said that the rule of law remains sacrosanct and that if the PIB is passed into law it would be to the benefit of the whole country. According to him, the PIB has already been politicised which is not good. “The problem is not in passing the PIB but the will of the government to show sincerity in the process.”
He said it was important for government to also step aside and allow experienced experts in refinery operations to come to build and run Nigerian refineries.
Sote said there was need to take urgent steps in building new refineries where government can participate only as equity owners and not as major operators in order to boost local production.