18th July, 2012
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday sent to the National Assembly a bill, which has been years in the making, to overhaul Africa’s largest oil industry. And this is authentic, following a red flag issued several days ago that a fake version was in circulation.
If passed by the lower house and senate, the Petroleum Industry Bill is expected to dramatically restructure and partly privatise the graft-ridden NNPC state oil company, among other changes.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill 2012 was forwarded by Mr. President to the National Assembly this morning,” Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke told journalists.
The bill has been in the works in different forms for years.
The government has repeatedly given deadlines in the past for when the overhaul would be set in motion, but all have passed without action.
Uncertainty over the new regulations has led to a freeze in fresh investment in Nigeria’s oil industry, with major firms holding off on key decisions until details on new tax and royalty rates come into focus.
The executive branch’s version of the bill is expected to be made public in coming days, but lawmakers could still insert significant changes before voting on the legislation.
Analysts have warned that Nigeria risks jeopardising future production with continued delays, saying the country must either approve a new bill in some form or decide to stick with the current arrangements.