Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government thursday said it would not hold any bid rounds for oil blocks in Nigeria’s marginal oil fields until it is able to get the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed into law by the National Assembly.
It, however, stated that it was working hard to get the PIB passed into law before the first anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term on May 29, 2020.
The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva disclosed this yesterday in Abuja when he briefed journalists. He stated that the various versions of the PIB were being harmonised in consultation with the industry stakeholders.
Sylva informed that the government would hold bid rounds for marginal oil fields in Nigeria after the PIB had been passed into law because according to him, “new gridding, acreage management and bidding process are thoroughly elucidated in the upcoming Petroleum Industry Bills.”
He added that, “it is therefore highly desirable that the bills are passed before any bid round.”
He said: “This is one of the reason we implore Nigerians to support us in our quest to pass the bills in earnest.”
In Buhari’s first term, the PIB was unbundled into four different bills, one of which was the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which was eventually passed by the National Assembly but the president declined his assent on it.
Sylva said the new move would leverage on the cordial relationship between the executive and legislature to get this PIB passed.
He explained that passing the PIB was crucial to the growth of the country’s petroleum industry.
According to him, unlike the PIGB, the new PIB will have two regulators, one for upstream and the other for the midstream and downstream sectors.
“A few of things we intend to do this year, we want to progress the consideration and passage of the overall petroleum legislation. The team working on the PIB is at the final stage of the harmonisation of all the existing versions from 2000 till date; 2009, 2012 and 2018 with considerations to the concerns raised by the industry players to create an enabling environment for investors as well as appropriate government taking in all the oil and gas value chain.
“Counting on the existing harmony between the legislative and the executive arm of government, we are optimistic that both the petroleum industry governance, administration and host communities bill on the one and the petroleum industry fiscal bill on the other will be passed within the first anniversary of this administration,” he said.
He further said: “Special focus will be placed on the mainstream and downstream sector consequently, we are considering two regulators in the PIB; one for the upstream, the commission and another for the midstream and downstream the authority.”
Sylva explained that the government would work to get the midstream and downstream sectors of the country’s oil industry create more opportunities to local investors to create more jobs for Nigerians.
He added that the government also wants to grow crude oil production in the country because the current production level is far below Nigeria’s target of four million barrels per day.
“The petroleum industry has not moved very far in this country for some time now, I am the first to admit it because a few years ago in my first incarnation in the ministry of petroleum, we were already producing as a country over two million barrels per day and we actually had a projection to move our productions to three million barrels per day and to at least four million barrels by this time.
“At that time, UAE as a country was producing 2.7 million barrels per day. Today, the UAE has moved on to producing four million barrels per day. We would have been very lucky if we were even stagnant in this country but instead of being stagnant, we have gone backwards.
“Today we are producing according to OPEC quota, 1.774 million barrels. So, we can see there is a need for us to move this industry forward and that is the mandate we have from the president who is also our minister of petroleum,” he explained.