Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has authoritatively declared that the Green Chamber is determined to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) within the next six months.
“On the PIB, there are two things that the House would want to do. First, the House is determined to pass the bill within the next six months, or probably less, because the clock has already started running from the time it was presented.
“Two, the House is determined to pass a PIB that is satisfactory to all. I know it’s difficult to satisfy everybody, but we will try our best to satisfy everybody,” Gbajabiamila said.
Speaking when he played host to a delegation of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) under Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the speaker said the House would ensure that it carried all stakeholders along in working on the draft legislation until its passage.
The speaker urged members of OPTS led by their Chairman, Mike Sangster, to avail themselves the opportunity they have at hand to reach out to the House Adhoc Committee on PIB to make their inputs.
He expressed concern over the submission by Sangster that PIB in its present form, would not make the Nigerian oil and gas industry competitive globally.
“PIB has been long coming. Because of the various interests, it’s difficult to pass a bill that addresses the interests of everyone. But PIB luckily will involve local content.
“I’m very concerned about what you said that PIB as it is, doesn’t allow Nigeria to compete favourably in the global market,” he said, adding: “We’re not competitive, yet there’s the presence of oil majors here.”
According to him, “We need to look at it, but I think it will be difficult to tell members that we should go back to the old arrangement that we had.
“I need to ask the question that where were you when they were making this law? Your inputs should have been there. It’s never too late for you to have your inputs.
“I’m sure the committee will do justice to the other issues you raised.”
Earlier, Sangster raised concerns about the present form of PIB, which he said if passed the way it is, it would negatively affect Nigeria’s competitiveness in the global market.
He noted that in the past years, the African continent attracted about $70 billion of investment in the oil and gas industry but that only about $3 billion came to Nigeria despite being a major player continentally.
When the speaker sought to know from Sangster if PIB had any positives, OPTS chairman responded in the affirmative, noting that PIB represented the much-needed reforms in the sector.
He noted, however, that in its present form, the bill “doesn’t provide the environment for future investments.”
He raised other issues to include the preservation of the oil and gas business in the country, royalties, tax, how to handle NNPC’s outstanding liabilities, segregation of the upstream and downstream, complexities in the implementation of the bill, among others.
Noting that the petroleum industry had the capacity to create thousands of jobs in the next 10 years, Sangster said: “We would encourage the House to reach out to other sources to have a better analysis of PIB.”