DPR: PIA Holds Key to Unlocking Nigeria’s Hydrocarbons

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*Stakeholders call for thorough implementation
* PENGASSAN demands representation in steering committee
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) yesterday urged Nigerians to keep faith with the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), assuring that it holds the key to fully unlocking the full potential of the country’s oil and gas resources.

Speaking at the sixth triennial branch delegates’ conference and award ceremony of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), DPR Branch, in Abuja, the Director of the organisation, Mr. Sarki Auwalu, expressed confidence that the new law would transform the industry.

Specifically, Auwalu noted that he had no doubt that the DPR and its successor agencies, the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NURC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDRA) would continue to play a pivotal role in creating value and promoting industry growth.

He added that with the creation of the new agencies, they would ensure stability, and sustainability as well as leveraging its greatest assets, including the unions which remain the, “turbo engine” that drives the wheels of the department.
Speaking on the theme: “The Petroleum Industry Act: Prospects for the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry”, the DPR director said the new legislation marked a notable milestone in the past two decades of legal reforms of the sector.

“This law holds the key to unlocking value from the nation’s hydrocarbon resources for the benefits of our generation and those of our children and children’s children.
“The law will enable far-reaching reforms and sustainable overhaul of the industry, as there is focused and committed implementation framework under the distinguished leadership of Mr. President and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this industry is set on the path for greatness. I therefore charge all of us, including the great PENGASSAN, to give unalloyed support for the smooth implementation and seamless take-off of the PIA,” he stressed.

Auwalu thanked the DPR branch and national body for demonstrating maturity in engaging management on welfare issues affecting its members, stating that it was on record that for several years now, DPR has continually enjoyed industrial peace and harmony.
The Executive Secretary Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Dr. Aliyu Gusau, in his comments, noted that although he was initially disappointed that it took Nigeria almost two decades to pass the law, it was not too late since it now incorporates all the contemporary issues in the energy industry.

“My initial reaction was disappointment. How could our nation spend two decades trying to do one thing? But then on further reflection, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise because if it was not done at this time, it would have been different altogether,” he explained.

He stated that the initial focus of the old bill was to make it a revenue generating document, but noted that that has changed, since issues like climate change and energy transition, among others have changed the face of the industry.

Gusau stated that Nigeria now has a window to make use of its resources with the PIA, insisting that the country would not afford to miss the opportunity because it does not have exclusive ownership of oil and gas resources.

He argued that the business model of pumping oil and putting it in the federation account was dying, stating that passage of the legislation was just 20 per cent of the job, while the major challenge would be its implementation.

“There are so many Acts in this country like this that have been put together but are yet to realise their full potential. So, it’s important for stakeholders to pull in one direction to produce the kind of Industry envisaged in the new law,” he said.

Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr. Abdullahi Sule, in his comments, stated that he was part of the process that gave birth to the PIA in the early 2000s, explaining that many people did not really understand the content of the document.
He argued that frontier basins were not only found in the north, saying that Calabar, Anambra, Benin also have basins.

On his part, the National President, PENGASSAN, Mr. Festus Osifo, stated that while everyone could not agree on the new law, global best practices should be imitated in its execution.
He reiterated that a single regulator would have been preferable to the current dual bodies, citing the need for synergy.

He stated that the view of PENGASSAN was that Nigeria should quickly produce what it has under the ground before fossil fuels become irrelevant in the coming years.

Also, the Chairman of PENGASSAN, DPR branch, Owan Abua, noted that while PENGASSAN does not agree with the entire document, it was better than nothing at all.

“Despite our earnest efforts to push for a single regulatory regime which would act as a one-stop-shop for all regulatory matters across the value-chain of the industry, the legislators passed a dual regulatory regime as proposed by the executive.

“Be that as it may, we applaud the final passage of the bill into an act, as we are of the opinion that a bad law is better than no law. There will always be room for future amendments
“The union is advocating to be represented in the PIA implementation committee. This will ensure that all issues involving personnel placement and welfare will be duly taken care of proactively,” he explained.