Buhari to Receive Long-awaited Oil Reform Bill


The Ministry of Petroleum Resources will present a long-awaited oil and gas reform bill to the president in the coming days aimed at boosting output and attracting foreign investment, three sources close to the negotiations told Reuters.

The reforms, 20 years in the making, are particularly urgent this year as low oil prices and a shift towards renewable energy have made competition tougher to attract investment from oil majors.

A spokesman for the Petroleum Ministry, which led the bill’s drafting, did not reply to a request for comment and the president’s office declined to comment.

Royal Dutch Shell, the largest international operator in Nigeria, said a botched reform effort would be “putting at risk and making unviable most of the planned projects.”

“We hope that the final bill would be one that would unlock potential investments that Nigeria’s rich resource base truly deserves,” a spokesman for Shell companies in Nigeria said.

A draft summary seen by Reuters included provisions that would streamline and reduce some oil and gas royalties. One of the sources described even the government’s reduced take of oil revenues, through taxes, royalties and other fees, as “aggressive” compared with other nations. Some African countries are trying to cut red tape and taxes in order to make developing their oil and gas reserves attractive to companies.

It proposes to boost the amount of money companies pay to local communities and for environmental cleanups.

It would also alter the dispute resolution process between companies and the government, though specifics of the changes were not included in the summary. The bill also included measures aimed at pushing companies to develop gas discoveries and a framework for gas tariffs and delivery.

Commercialising gas, particularly for use in local power generation, is a core government priority.

The bill will be presented in one piece with four chapters, the sources said. An effort to pass reforms by breaking them into several bills in 2018 fell flat; just one portion made it to President Buhari’s desk, and he never signed it.