By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria have once more stressed the need for the country to resolve the stalemate constituted by the delayed reform of its oil sector using the instrument of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
According to the IOCs, the continued delay in getting the PIB which has since been broken into four parts â€“ Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB); Petroleum Host Community Bill (PHCB); Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB); and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB), passed into law was hurting the progress of the industry.
Although, they acknowledged efforts by the current National Assembly to get the bills passed, the IOCs however said at a panel discussion at the just concluded 2018 edition of the annual Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) conference and exhibition in Abuja, that issues around the PIB should be concluded to allow the industry to move forward.
Issues around the passage of the PIB has reportedly remained quite touchy with various attempts at getting it passed shutdown by interests.
But in their contributions, the IOCs which comprised Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL); Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC); Total Exploration and Production Nigeria (TEPN); and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), called for an end to the PIB logjam.
â€œRight now, oil price is increasing, it is giving the oil companies a little more confidence in investing, but we are still very selective in where we send our money and how much capital we have to spend.
â€œAnd, so, Nigeria needs to be competitive globally in the fiscal policies and ease of doing business.
â€œSo, that the discussion we have been having with the government and making sure that they understand the implication of the competitiveness of the industry.
â€œThe government is making some good steps on the PIB, changes to the JV oil terms, we are looking forward to that. We have also talked about our concerns in the public hearing on JV gas in deep-water terms, they need to be competitive to draw more money into Nigeria,â€ said Jeff Ewing, Managing Director of CNL in his contribution.
Ewing, noted there have been good consultations between the IOCs, government and the parliament on resumed legislation on the PIB, adding, â€œWe see a lot of potentials in Nigeria, there is a big oil and gas reserves here; we just need to have the right framework in place to have a globally competitive fiscal prices in place to help us develop.â€
Similarly in his submissions, Paul McGrath, who heads MPN stated that he was impressed with the status of recent consultations with stakeholders on the PIB.
According to him: â€œTo unlock the potentials in the country, we need first of, certainty. The recent work that is being done in the petroleum industry bill and the reform in the national assembly, is an excellent piece of work, but it needs to have an end result.â€
Continuing, McGrath explained: â€œWe need to have an industry reform bill or set of bills that will attract international investment not push it away.
â€œIâ€™ve been very encouraged with the dialogues weâ€™ve had with the national assembly and the technical teams till date. They have listened, they are listening and tried to engage the industry and I think that is very interesting but at the end of the day, we need to stop talking about industry reform, have industry reform and then move on and unlock the potentials.â€
In his address, the country chair of Shell companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, explained that while conversations about the PIB has gone on for long, recent developments on it have been encouraging.
According to him: â€œWe have talked about the PIB for sometimes, just like the funding. For the first time we actually see very serious efforts to try and address this and what is helpful is that we donâ€™t have a cacophony of voices.
â€œBoth ourselves when we appear before the national assembly as an industry and private investors and also the NNPC, stressed the point for a PIB that is a win-win and brings investments.
â€œPIB needs to be passed to remove uncertainties but not a PIB that does not encourage investments. A PIB that takes account the need to encourage investment and the consultations this time have been extensive.â€