ByÂ Emmanuel Aziken
The Presidency yesterday commenced a lobby for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the Senate as it emerged that government was getting zero revenue from some offshore oil production blocks as a result of fiscal arrangements with the joint ventures.
The PIB envisages the break up of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the scrapping of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Sani Surfi, led the government delegation in the absence of the minister, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, in the presentation of the bill to the Senate Committees on Upstream Petroleum, Downstream Petroleum, Gas and Finance.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, gave an overview of the bill to the senators.
PIB which also aims to equip the Directorate of Petroleum Resources has been read for the first time in the Senate and is scheduled for second reading this week.
Noting the shortfall to government revenue as a result of fiscal arrangements with some of the Joint Venture Companies (JVCs), he said: â€œThe bill is seeking to transform NNPC from what it is now with its dependence on government for its funding and its operations into a profit centre where it will be a full-fledged fully commercial national oil and gas company with its operations fully capitalised thereby providing it with the operational independence and the financial autonomy.”
that it requires in order for it to grow into the league of the most successful national oil companies.â€™â€™
â€œToday we have certain productions in our offshore where the tax revenue coming to the state is either minimal or even zero as a consequence of the fiscal arrangements that we have in place.â€™â€™
According to him the PIB seeks to put all the distinct laws presently governing the petroleum industry in one comprehensive law.
â€œThis is the first time in the history of our country and this industry when we as a nation are taking a look at the laws governing the industry into one compendium of laws hopefully when you pass this bill.â€™â€™ â€œWe are seeking by the passage of this bill to consolidate sixteen laws into one bill. Simply becaue it is a logical way in achieving the reforms in the industry,â€™â€™ Dr. Bakindo said as he lamented that operators in the industry were presently compelled to contend with multiple legislation.
â€œIn terms of policy, the NNPC will be completely divorced from issues relating to policy and a new institution, the National Petroleum Directorate will now be created to subsume the present Ministry of Petroleum Resources.â€™â€™
â€œWhen in 1986 the then Federal Military Government recreated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources they did with a to address this anomaly. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources has not been able to develop the capacity to be able to undertake this role on behalf of the government and industry because of the nature and organization of the civil service.â€™â€™
â€œThe NPD will be a professional directorate, it will not be a transformed directorate of the Ministry, but it seeks to create a new institution and that institution will be manned by professionals.
The DPR that is supposed to be the regulator of the entire industry is itself handicapped and is itself dependent on the same industry for performing its regulatory responsibilities. What this bill is seeking to do is to give the DPR the independence it requires in terms of funding and operations and carve it out completely from the ministry so that it can superintend over the entire industry,â€™â€™ he said.