The House of Representatives says new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) being processed by the National Assembly will enable Nigeria operate at efficiency standards expected of 21st-century oil and gas industry.
Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, stated this at the opening of a public hearing on Petroleum Industry Reform Bills at the National Assembly on Tuesday in Abuja.
Dogara observed that as it currently stood, the government recognised that the industry could no longer meet its aspirations and those of key stakeholders.
The Bills being considered are Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and Petroleum Host and Impacted Communities Bill.
“You are all aware that the oil and gas industry reform has been a critical issue before the House of Representatives since 2009 when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was first transmitted as an Executive Bill.
“The major reason for the reform, which remains even more valid today, is that the petroleum industry in Nigeria is not operating at standards and levels of efficiency expected of a 21st-century oil and gas industry.
“Government recognizes that the industry can no longer meet its aspirations and those of key stakeholders,” he said.
The speaker expressed regret at the 6th and 7th National Assemblies for their failure to conclude legislative consideration of the PIB.
“This, in my opinion, was as a result of insufficient consultations and weak ownership of the Bill.
“It also includes an absence of requisite political will as well as the extremely divergent and competing views of the government and other major stakeholders on the provisions of the Bill.
“However, at the National Assembly, the most important set back was that the PIB was difficult to handle by the relevant committees because it was a massive and complex document.
“It was to repeal and re-enact almost all our petroleum laws into a holistic legislation and because of its sheer size and complexity, the Bill was difficult to consider by the legislative committees in both chambers.
“The implications of the delay in concluding the oil and gas industry reform which commenced since the year 2000 have been very colossal for our country running into several billions of dollars.
“The money would have accrued to Nigeria and our economy coupled with the loss of our erstwhile continental competitiveness,” he said.
Dogara, however, assured that in spite of the setbacks experienced in the past, the 8th National Assembly, especially the House of Representatives, would ensure passage of the bill for completion of oil and gas industry reform.
According to him, the passage of the bill was one of the House’s cardinal legislative objectives.
“Today’s event is in keeping with our covenant with Nigerians to lay to rest this difficult but surmountable challenge that has been the bane of our oil and gas industry.
“To ensure a thorough and expedited conclusion of the reform, this House decided to split the reform Bills into logical smaller bills. This way, the individual Bills can be expeditiously considered and passed one after the other.
“The reform Bills were split into the following Bills – Petroleum Industry Governance Bill 2017, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill 2018, Petroleum Producing Host and Impacted Communities Bill, 2018 and Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, 2018.
“The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, 2017 has been passed by both the House and Senate and is now before the President for assent,” he said.