‘Non-passage of PIB hurts oil industry investment’
• Reps panel laments sector’s inability to fund budget
• ‘2020 budget to lift 10m Nigerians out of poverty’
From the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, came yesterday a disclosure that the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill ( PIB) has discouraged investments in the oil sector, resulting in the stagnation of the oil reserves at 37.5billion barrels since 2007.
While the nation’s oil reserves increased from 22 billion to 37 billion barrels between 1999 and 2007, only 500million barrels were added to it between 2007 and 2019 due to lack of additional investments arising from the failure to pass the PIB into law, it was further disclosed.
The minister made the disclosures at a public hearing organised by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Finance, Gas and Judiciary on the Deep Offshore and Inland Basing Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2019.
He blamed the situation on “lack of required regulatory laws for the sector which has been driving away investors.”
The PIB was first sent to the National Assembly in 2007 for enactment by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, but the interplay of dirty ethno-religious politics has prevented it from becoming law.
However, President of the Senate , Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, re-echoed the assurance to Nigerians that the Petroleum Industry Bill would be passed by the Ninth National Assembly next year.
“Collaborative approach between the executive and the legislature is being considered in getting the PIB passed and assented to this time around because the bill is highly needed to attract investors into the sector and widen our oil reserve base,” he said.
On the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Bill, Lawan said it was a done deal, being a required precursor for the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North East), said the need to put in place required legislations on Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) necessitated the motion that gave birth to the bill for a win-win arrangement for all stakeholders.
Aside from the minister of state for petroleum, all the critical stakeholders in the oil and gas sectors were at the public hearing.
The Senate had penultimate Wednesday lamented the loss of N7trillion ($21billion) to international oil firms within the last 26 years because of the non-implementation of Oil Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) it had with the affected oil firms since January 1993.
Besides, the inability of the oil sector to fund the nation’s budget has become a source of concern to the House of Representatives.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Mr. Musa Sarki Adar, charged officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), led by Mr. Mela Kyari to ensure that they raise revenue required to fund the N10.3 trillion 2020 budget.
Adar wondered why Nigeria would have to rely on the 2020 budget whose worth is equivalent of $9 billion when less populous oil producing countries like Cameroon, Chad, Angola and Egypt could generate more revenue to fund their yearly budgets.
The lawmaker, who promised to support the NNPC through the enactment of relevant legislation, charged the corporation to endeavour to go beyond the daily oil production target of 2.2 mbpd to raise revenue required to tackle the multifaceted problems bedeviling the country.
Kyari, who is NNPC’s group managing director, blamed poor investment in the oil sector over the years for the failure to boost oil production.
Calling on the lawmakers to support the NNPC with relevant legislations, he assured that arrangement had been concluded to fix the nation’s refineries mainly with indigenous manpower.
“It is very true that Nigeria is a very expansive oil and gas province and it is also true that our production targets have not materialised over the years. And indeed the national targets of 3mbpd and 40 million barrels of reserve have not been attained. I can assure you Mr. chairman that we are very focused today. We know this is possible and we are taking steps to realise this before the end of 2023.
“A number of interventions are ongoing currently. The chairman is aware that we just announced the oil discovery in the Gongola basin. We expect many more to happen. We have very good prospects and we know that attaining 40 million reserve is very possible
“On increasing the production, which is very paramount, even if you have the reserve and you don’t produce, it is of no value. We are taking critical steps and there are parts of it that the legislature must participate in. Since 2007, there has been no significant investment decision making by this industry. And the highest that was done is investment of about $500 million since 2007. That means there is something responsible for this.
“Effort to bring petroleum legislation to the table has not materialised, but I know today that this assembly is very determined to ensure that the petroleum legislation is put in place. That would address the issue for fiscal stability because investors must be convinced that your laws will not change,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, has said that the N10.33 trillion 2020 Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly is planned to lift at least 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in line with the nation’s development plan – the ERGP- which ends next year,
While breaking down the budget presented to the legislature last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister revealed that conscious efforts had been taken in apportioning resources to areas that would create wealth and affect the poor in the society.
She listed parts of such programme as the N67 billion for the reintegration of repentant former militants to make them useful members of the society under the country’s regional intervention arrangement.
Ahmed also disclosed that N430 billion had been proposed for special intervention programme, including the social housing which is expected to cost N30 billion; Home Grown School Feeding Programme, the Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power job creation programme; and the conditional cash transfer programme which is now domiciled in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development.