By Jimiota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT: Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS) built by Total E & P in conjunction with other training institutions has been commissioned by the Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum, Dr Emmanuel Egbogah at the University of Port Harcourt.
At a lecture presented later at the University of Port Harcourt to mark the 6th anniversary of the Institute of Petroleum Studies (IPS) in the University, Dr Egbogah noted that the petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would promote transparency in the operation of the oil and gas industry in the country when it is passed into law.
According to him, the bill would remove what he termed secrecy/confidentiality around the oil and gas industry which he said encourages corruption. With the passage of the bill Dr Egboga said the power to grant petroleum prospecting licenses (PPLS) and petroleum mining leases (PMLs) would rest with the Minister. And this would now be done through competitive bid process which would be open and accessible to all qualified companies. Continuing, he said details of all licenses, leases and contracts and any of the changes to such documents would no longer be confidential.
He said payments to government would also be made public. â€œAll petroleum geological, geophysical, technical and well data will be accessible for all interested persons in a national data baseâ€
He said the bill would also ensure that all companies involved in the upstream petroleum industry would be subjected to the same system of rents, royalties and taxes, â€œdepending on whether they operate in the onshore, shallow or deep offshore or inland areasâ€
Egbogah said the new law would certainly transform the industry into one of the most transparent round the world.
Egbogah regretted that the oil exploration and production activities in the country was yet to meet standards and levels of efficiency expected of a twenty first century oil and gas industry.
â€œThe oil and gas sector which has been the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy has not fully met the aspirations of its key stakeholdersâ€. He noted that the legislation regulating the industry were no longer also consistent with global standards.
â€œThere are also a number of other laws, mostly decrees which have become obsolete and proven to be impotent in regulating the country’s petroleum industry. The PIB coalesces all the existing 16 laws into one comprehensive, all encompassing legislation, which captures all the experience of past more than fifty years in addressing all institutional matters, policy, structure, legal and governanceâ€
Continuing, he said the reform being introduced by the federal government clearly defined three different sectors of the industry which he listed as upstream, midstream and downstream.
Adding that the bill would introduce separation of policy and assign clear delineation of functions among some of the following structures, National Petroleum Directorate, national petroleum inspectorate, petroleum products regulatory authority, national midstream regulatory agency, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company ltd which would have strict commercial focus etc
Egbogah said the PIB would also see that all companies engaged in upstream petroleum operation, including the National Oil company would pay company income tax â€œ as well as the introduction of Nigerian hydrocarbon tax (NHT) which is a simplified version of petroleum tax â€œ
â€œCompanies currently operating in Nigeria will be required to give back acreage from existing oil prospecting licenses and oil mining leases, except acreages from which there are production, or acreages that will be developed in the near futureâ€
Earlier in his welcome address, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Don Baridam said the establishment of the IPS had facilitated the training of quality manpower for the oil industry without having send students abroad.
â€œThe certificates awarded in IPS are globally certified by the nature of the curriculum and quality of instructors who are drawn from the universities, industry and IPS school, Paris France.â€