Owing to the recent crisis in the oil producing region of Nigeria, experts in the oil and gas sector, yesterday accused the Federal Government and the oil communities of ignorance to contractual agreement signed before exploration and production in the region.
The experts, Barrister Israel Aye, Managing Partner, Sterling Partnership of Energy, Commercial Contracts & Infrastructure Group and Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Right Action, Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Akinbode Olufemi, who spoke at separate sessions at the ongoing workshop with journalists organized by Natural Resources Governance Institute (NRGI) in Lagos, attributed the dysfunction to policies and regulations supposedly meant to guide petroleum operations.
Presenting his paper titled “Legal & Regulatory Framework of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry”, Barrister Israel Aye, said for the oil sector to develop its naturally endowed fortune, “there is need for development of the country’s legal framework, which requires that such laws, regulations and policies governing the industry should be unambiguous, comprehensive, flexible, transparent and practical”, he said.
The energy legal consultant noted that government’s framework should be responsive to Nigeria’s peculiar environment rather than an un-successful mimicry of global standards.
He added that passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law is fundamental to providing certainty to regulating the industry thereby attracting foreign investors which would in turn enhance development for the economy.
“Regulatory agencies in Nigeria need to develop the capacity to ensure good behavior of the new generation companies coming into the industries, as the IOC’s are operating on a higher code of ethics that is regulated.”
He explained that the oil and gas industry in the country is blessed with vast deposit which should provide seed capital for development in other sectors.
“However, Nigeria is deficit in this aspect as the vast petroleum deposit has not translated into the development associated with it, compared to other oil rich countries.
“Apart from generally known product extracted from crude which includes, Petrol, Diesel and Kerosene, other products like tyres, roofing sheets, fertilizers and many more could also be positive by-products of crude oil.”
He also lamented that government is solely concerned about the petroleum products gotten from crude, however, short-changing itself of other benefits that could be generated from harnessing the full potentials of crude oil.
He stressed that proceeds from oil revenues should be used for development effort as opposed to squandering it.
He cited that Norway, already have a re-investment program for its oil proceeds to develop other sectors of the economy that could encourage Internally Generated Revenue.
Thus, he urged the government to harness the oil proceeds to develop other sectors of the economy other than what is been practiced, “because oil will one day finish, as it is a non-replaceable natural resources,” he added.
On his part, Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Right Action, Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Akimbode Olufemi, also blamed the country’s weak policy and legislations on laws inherited from the colonial masters, saying that such are outdated, ineffective and begging for review.
Olufemi, who presented “Social issues and Environmental impacts of natural resource extraction in Nigeria”, pointed out that most environmental laws in the country were enacted in the 1950s, 1970s before they reviewed in the 1990s, “thus the laws are outdated and urgently needs review with current realities in the sector.”
The Environmental Activist however hinted that the weak and inactive institutions especially those who regulate the sector like DPR, NESRA, are marred in corruption. Adding that the country currently lacks environmental laws that could protect the local communities, livestock and the people’s means of livelihood.