OrderPaperToday – The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has set up a Committee to work on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) ahead of next month’s resumption of the National Assembly, a source close to the presidency has exclusively told OrderPaperNG.
The bill seeks to change the organisational structure and fiscal terms governing the petroleum industry.
The source who did not want to be quoted added that the committee has already commenced work by reviewing the earliest version of the document which was presented in 2008 as an executive bill by late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
The panel is working in the direction of merging the earlier versions of the bill with the one passed by the last national assembly earlier this year, the source further stated.
The committee, which is being coordinated directly by the presidency has operators in the oil and gas industry, including the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of Petroleum Resources, among others.
OrderPaperNG gathered that the committee has met at least thrice in the last one month and is speeding up efforts to ensure an executive bill is ready for presentation to the National Assembly upon resumption at the end of September, 2019.
Efforts to reform the petroleum sector has spanned two decades. In 2000, the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated the Oil and Gas SectorReform Implementation Committee (OGIC).
By 2004, a draft of the National Oil and Gas Policy was submitted. Three years later, OGIC was reconstituted under the leadership of Dr. Rilwan Lukman, and a report was released in 2008. Although the policy framework has been developed, there have been difficulties in passing the enabling legislation and implementing the proposed reforms.
The 6th National Assembly that lasted from 2007 to 2011 failed to pass the bill. In the 7th National Assembly (2011 – 2015), former President Goodluck Jonathan re-introduced the bill in 2012. The bill was passed towards the end of the 7th Assembly reportedly by only 47 out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, the bill was not concurred by the Senate.
In the 8th National Assembly, the PIB was divided into four parts — Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill and Petroleum Host Community Bill.
After its passage of the first part of the bill (Petroleum Industry Governance Bill) by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, it was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent in July 2018 but the President declined to assent the bill in August last year.
While giving his reasons for rejecting the bill, the President expressed reservation with some responsibilities of the Petroleum Regulatory Commission. He kicked against the provision of the bill permitting the Petroleum Regulatory Commission to retain 10 per cent of the revenue generated, as well as expansion of the functions of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF).
The delays experienced with the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in over a decade has led to loss of critical investments in the petroleum sector as well as reduced revenues for the government amidst declining production and reserves.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has also assured that the current 9th National Assembly will break the PIB jinx. “We have a vibrant team now, I promise Nigerians, we will start as soon as we inaugurate our Committee and they will start the work on the PIB,” Lawan said in July, 2019 during a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Group, Pul McGrath in Abuja.
“This time around, we will work with every stakeholder in the industry. Whatsoever it will take to make this Bill beneficial to Nigerians and the players, we will not hesitate. We demand your collaboration, we will work together in the interest of the country and everyone,” he added.