Stakeholders seek withdrawal of Petroleum Industry Bill
Concerned stakeholders in the oil and gas industry have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the current version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) for necessary review.
The stakeholders, who gathered at the yearly general meeting and luncheon of the Petroleum Club, in Lagos, enjoined the Federal Government to discontinue the process of the passing the bill, which was considered highly-doctored by some interested parties.
The Former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, Emmanuel Egbogah, who was the special guest at the luncheon, said the PIB was drafted to solve the funding issues in the sector; upstream and downstream challenges and repeal the obsolete Acts in the industry.
He however expressed concerns that the present bill before the House of Assembly might solve some of the problems, but would also create more problems for the country due to some omissions and discretionary provisions in the bill.
According to Egbogah, the omission of royalty and the discretionary power given to the minister and the president in the bill could cause investment setback in the country.
“These will only support what we have seen in the past where the president allocates oil blocks to his allies,” he said.
Egbogah, who is the Chairman, Emerald Energy Resources, said the bill should therefore be withdrawn from the House of Assembly and reviewed in other to ensure that the objectives of the regulation is achieved.
He said with the proper review of the bill, it would promote transparency through the removal of confidentiality, “which I know had promoted corruption in the past.”
Egbogah, who was among the team which drafted the original version of the PIB, said if the bill had been passed over the years, gas flaring would have become a thing of the past as the bill was supposed to have barred such act since December 2012.
He however lamented that that the licensing rounds have been put on hold for over five years due to the controversies surrounding the passage of the PIB.
The Emerald boss was optimistic that the original version of the PIB would drive more investment into the country and buoy the national economy.
Other speakers at the forum believed that the PIB is dead and might not be resurrected, until some patriotic forces rise up to revive the integrity of the bill and ensure that the provisions gave credence to critical areas of the sector.
They however urged President Buhari to be careful in selecting the leadership of oil and gas institutions, particularly the minister of petroleum, so as not to chose a wrong person.
The Chairman, Petroleum Club, Otunba Funsho Lawal, said the group has continued to monitor the trend in the industry and would continue to contribute its quota to ensure that Nigeria’s petroleum industry is on the right track of growth.
He said the club has made some recommendations to Mr President on the industry and would pursue the PIB review agenda headlong.