The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu says that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) when passed will grow nation’s oil reserves.
Kachikwu, said this on Tuesday at a symposium on the PIGB organised by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in Abuja.
Represented at the meeting by one of his Senior Technical Advisers, Mr Johnson Awoyemi, the minister of state explained that the existing laws governing operations in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry were archaic and needed to be overhauled.
The PIGB, alongside Host Communities Bill and others, is an offshoot of the omnibus Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is awaiting presidential assent.
He lauded the National Assembly for taking its time to legislate on the Bill, adding that it would provide a standard governance framework for the industry.
Kachikwu urged the legislators to consider other aspects of the PIB, especially the fiscal terms, to quickly restore viability to the country’s oil sector.
“It is a national priority to have certainty and clarity over the operations of the petroleum industry as it will foster more licensing rounds, enhance revenues and increased economic activities.
“New acreages will be awarded for exploration and production under new laws and terms, especially offshore which is likely to account for much of the growth in the nation’s reserves.
“For too long, we have waited for this moment with bated breath and sheer excitement, knowing that the bill will disentangle us from the manacles of inefficiency, low investment drive and opacity.
“There were some complaints of shrinkage of some agencies in the bill and there is a need to consider the concept of ability to stand alone versus efficiency of service deliveries.
According to him, we must relish the urgency of this moment as all hands should be on deck to making sure the bill achieves what it is meant to achieve.
Kachikwu noted that getting to the yes on the PIGB was a great milestone, adding “I am so glad we have begun heeding the clarion call,’’ he said.
He said laws which had hitherto governed the sector had become archaic.
“The aggregation of industry laws which had governed the oil and gas sector over the years has become archaic and no longer competitive and needs to be reviewed and harmonised into a comprehensive law.
“However, it is still not yet sure as the fiscal aspect of the bill which will address the revenue inflow to both the state and investors is still on the offing.’’
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, at the symposium said the corporation was planning ahead for the execution of the bill before it becomes law.
Baru was represented at the meeting by the Group General Manager, Corporate Planning of the corporation, Mr Bala Wunti.
Baru explained that the NNPC has initiated a new policy that involved reforming its people, processes, procedures, productivity and profit drive to fit into the demands of the PIGB era.
According to Baru, the NNPC will right-size its workforce to fit into the various businesses it will be involved in across the entire value chain of the industry instead of downsising and firing them.
He said the corporation had recognised it would need to survive in the post-PIGB era without government subventions, hence, the need to ensure that all members of its staff are productively engaged in the various aspects of its operations.
In his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio, said it was common knowledge that the oil sector was poorly governed and in dire need of reforms.
Adio said the processes of getting the industry reformed through new laws had taken too long, adding that the PIGB was the closest the country had come to passing a new reform law in the sector.
“Now that we are hopefully close to the end of this circuitous journey, it is important for us to focus on the next tasks in a way that will proactively and strategically ensure the intention of the proposed laws are fully realised.
“This will ensure that we have not undertaken the long journey in vain,” Adio said.