By Hector Igbikiowubo
THE Nigerian Senate has affirmed its commitment to the smooth passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is designed to provide legal and regulatory framework for the oil industry, in what appears a resolute move to place Nigeria in the league of first class oil producing nations.
Speaking at a gala in honour of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, Member Country visiting team led by Abdalla S. El_Badri, Secretary General of the organisation, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president stated that members of theÂ senate have resolved to pass the oil reform bill before the end of the year.
â€œThe timing of this visit which is coming after we have just completed the successful amnesty programme is very good for Nigeria. We want to take our rightful place in OPEC as a leading producer of oil and gas and the passage of the PIB will help us to achieve that effectively,â€ Ekweremadu said.
Earlier the Minister of Petroleum Dr. Rilwanu Lukman in his remark called on the Senate to do a good job on the PIB to strengthen Nigeriaâ€™s position in the international oil market.
The Petroleum Industry Bill is a proposed legislation currently before the National Assembly through which the federal government is seeking to set out a new legal, regulatory and fiscal framework for the organisation and operation of the entire oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
The PIB is based on the Report of the Oil and Gas Sector Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC) set up by the Federal Government in 2000 to carry out a comprehensive reform of the oil and gas industry.
In addition, the suggestions and recommendations of the Inter-Agency Team constituted by the federal government have since been incorporated in the form of a memorandum on the PIB to the National Assembly for ease of reference and comparative analysis.
The proposed law in essence is a reform legislation which aims to establish in place of the existing myriad of legislative and administrative instruments, an omnibus legislation with clear rules, procedures and institutions for the administration of the petroleum industry in Nigeria.
However, during the public hearing in both chambers of the national assembly, stakeholders including the oil producing communities, the multinational oil companies and oil and gas service companies raised concerns about the passage of the PIB as presently constituted.
Among other issues, the communities complained about their welfare not being taken into consideration, while the services companies raised concerns over the place of Nigerian content and the need for guarantees to safe-guard this principle.
Although the multinational oil companies welcomed the PIB, they noted however that if passed as presently constituted into law, it would discourage investments and deny the country of revenue.