•PIB on hold over Niger Delta crisis
Ejiofor Alike with agency reports
Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh, has stated that his country supports an oil price of $50-60 per barrel and any measure that would help stabilise the market, following a meeting held yesterday with the Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPCE), Mr. Mohammed Barkindo in Tehran.
This is coming as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) Resources, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was put on hold due to the Niger Delta crisis.
Barkindo visited the country as part of the efforts to mobilise OPEC members to support common measures to stabilise the oil market.
“Iran wants a stable market and therefore any measure that helps the stabilisation of the oil market is supported by Iran,” Reuters quoted Zanganeh as saying after meeting with Barkindo.
OPEC’s third-largest producer, Iran has signalled willingness to support the possible revival of a global deal on freezing production levels only if fellow exporters recognise its right to regain market share lost as a result of sanctions.
Under a deal reached with six major powers in 2015, international sanctions imposed on Iran ended in January in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.
Efforts by OPEC and non-OPEC oil exporters to reach an agreement on freezing output earlier this year foundered because Iran declined to participate.
Members of OPEC will meet on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum (IEF), with groups producers and consumers, in Algeria on September 26 to 28, during which they are expected to discuss a possible output freeze.
Non-OPEC member Russia is also expected to attend the IEF.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on Monday to set up a task force to review oil market fundamentals and recommend measures and actions that would secure market stability.
In a related development, the long-awaited bill reforming Nigeria’s petroleum industry has been effectively put on hold until tensions ease in the Niger Delta region.
While the Senate had commenced debate on its own version of the bill, the Ministry of Petroleum is yet to finish the preparation of the executive version of the bill.
It is expected that the National Assembly will harmonise the executive version and the bills sponsored by members of the legislature.
The previous version of the bill was stuck in the National Assembly for a decade, but the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has unveiled plans to split the bill into three to separate and isolate controversial areas to ease the passage into different laws.
Reuters quoted Alasodura as saying that as soon as normalcy returns in the Niger Delta, the National Assembly will resume debate on the bill.
“We have to hold it because of all the problems in the Niger Delta. As soon as things improve, then it will come to the front of the line again,” he added.
Alasoadura said there were no plans to change the bill, which had a first reading in the senate, but the unrest in the region forced the lawmakers to suspend the debate.
“There is a deliberate effort to keep things waiting so we don’t accentuate what is happening there,” he said.
Alasoadura however said the debate could resume within three to five months.