By Yemie Adeoye, in London
Following reservations by International Oil Companies, IOC’s, in Nigeria and other prospective investors in the oil and gas sector regarding the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, currently before the National Assembly, the Federal Government has stated that there would be no special terms for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, when the law is finally passed.
The statement is specifically aimed at assuaging the feelings of IOC’s and investors alike as well as to address the rumour making the rounds that there are several versions of the PIB and the law is aimed specifically at protecting government’s interest in the sector.
Dr. Tim Okon, Group General Manager, Corporate Planning and Strategy of the NNPC, made this assertion yesterday while delivering a presentation entitled ‘The fiscal terms of the PIB-implications for current and future investors’ at the on-going 13th annual Gulf of Guinea Oil and Gas week.
Other participants at the event also argued that the Federal Government needs to invest massively in infrastructure as it is a key to domestication in Nigeria as against exportation of the nation’s gas reserves.
Another speaker, Abidemi Oguntoye, also spoke on the importance of the Federal Government to come up with a focussed commitment to ensure proper implementation of the PIB.
According to him there is no reason why the bill should not have been passed two years after it was sent by Mr. President to the National Assembly, when the Electoral Act was amended and passed within weeks. He challenged the reason why the Minister of Petroleum should be saddled with so much powers as this would in no way boost investments in the nation’s oil sector.
“This is one cardinal problem that has hindered growth in the nation’s oil industry and we can only pray that the PIB addresses these issues. The minister over the years has combined both policy and regulatory roles in the oil sector thereby making it difficult for investors to have a level playing ground as policies could be reversed without consultations and so on and this has reduced investor confidence”.
Thursday was Nigeria’s day at the conference and it saw a lot of topical issues in the Petroleum sector being discussed.
Most of the speakers were unanimous in their call for lesser emphasis on the local content policies for various oil and gas countries including Nigeria.
Speaking at the Day 2 of the conference tagged Equatorial Guinea day, on the topic ‘The emergence of new NOC’s-a GEPetrol case study, the Chairman, Renaissance JMW Energy Ventures Mr. Jeffrey Waterhouse, stated that in the early 60’s the International Oil Companies, IOC’s, controlled about 80 per cent of oil reserves around the world while the situation today has been upturned by the National Oil Companies, NOC’s, which control the major part of oil operations around the world. This, according to him, has made the IOC’s to continue to face severe pressure around the world today.
Also speaking, the General Manager of Schlumberger, Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Samuel Safo Tchofo, stated that local content in the world today should be more of partnership/Citizenship and mutual benefit rather than a situation were IOC’s continue to face government pressure for government benefits.
Speaking on the topic ‘The challenge of local content integration to management’, with schlumberger as a case study, he stated further that in virtually everything that the company has had to do in Equatorial Guinea, it has ensured almost 100 per cent engagement of the indigenes and indigenous contractors as well.
“Now that the world is refocusing on gas as a replacement for oil, it is highly imperative to initiate industry friendly policies that would guide gas operations around the world” he enthused.