By Deji Elumoye
The Senate yesterday gave three of its committees namely: Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream and Gas, eight weeks to make required legislative input into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The bill cited as ‘A Bill for an Act to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian Petroleum Industry, the development of host communities and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 510)’, went through second reading at the Senate plenary after exhaustive debates by senators across party divides.
The upper chamber also adjourned plenary till November 24 after passage of the PIB for consideration of the N13.08trillion 2021 budget by relevant committees.
Leading the debate on the bill, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, named the objectives of the bill to include: (a) “To create efficient and effective governing institutions, with clear and separate roles, and to establish a framework for the creation of a commercially oriented and profit-driven national petroleum company; (b) To promote the exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of the Nigerian people and the efficient, effective and sustainable development of the petroleum industry;
(c) To promote the safe and efficient operation of the transportation and distribution infrastructure for the petroleum industry and the framework for developing third party access arrangements to petroleum infrastructure.
“(d) To promote the competitive and liberalised downstream petroleum industry that promotes the processing of petroleum within Nigeria and the development of fuel and chemical industry;
“(e) To create a conducive business environment for operations in the petroleum industry that enhances peaceful and harmonious co-existence between licensees or lessees and host communities by conferring direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations on host communities;
“(f) To ensure that petroleum operations are conducted in a manner that protects the health and safety of persons, property and the environment;
“(g) To establish a fiscal framework that is forward-looking, progressive and based on a simplified tax administration that encourages investment in the Nigerian petroleum industry, balancing rewards with risk and enhancing revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria while ensuring a fair return to investors.”
According to him, “The bill is designed and drafted on the basis of three sets of principles, which include establishment of good governance, competitiveness, global best practices and ease of doing business in the Nigeria oil and gas industry.
“The bill is also designed with the assurance of early revenues for the government, simplicity of administration, equity and fairness; competitiveness and transparency; predictability, responsiveness, best practice, sustainability and role clarity in the regulation and management of the industry.”
Abdullahi explained that the bill proposes to transmute the current commercial entity, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), into an incorporated commercial company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited.
He said: “It also will transform the current Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEF(MB) and the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) into two new institutions-the Commission and Authority.
“These new entities shall be self-funding and will not rely on appropriation. Therefore, no funding will be appropriated by the National Assembly for these entities under the Petroleum Industry Bill 2020.”
He further stated that the bill is divided into five chapters each of which is further divided into different parts cutting across governance, institutions and administration of upstream, midstream and downstream services.
Chapter three of the bill, the Senate Leader added, deals with host communities development while chapter four provides for Petroleum Industry Fiscal Framework just as the last chapter (5) covers Miscellaneous Provisions.
Most senators, who contributed to debate on the bill, said the proposed legislation was long overdue in getting the oil and gas sectors in the country investments-friendly and invariably boosting the country’s economy.
Speaking after the passage of the bill for second reading, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, called on the three committees mandated to make more legislative inputs to be thorough in their work.
“Distinguished colleagues, the PIB jinx must be broken by this ninth National Assembly for the required liberalisation of the oil and gas sector.
“We should make the PIB as one of our legacies the way we did with the Petroleum Production Sharing Contract Bill last year,” he said.