April 25, 2010

Jonathan signs local content oil bill

Nigeria’s acting president on Thursday signed into law an oil industry bill that gives Nigeria firms priority in the award of oil blocks and requires foreign companies to hire more local workers.

Nigeria hopes the new law will help provide domestic job growth to its citizens, who have seen little tangible benefit in their daily lives in the five decades since oil was first pumped.

Industry experts estimate that Nigerian content in the oil and gas sector is around 40 per cent, indicating that most white-collar jobs, engineering, materials and maintenance work are provided by foreign workers and overseas suppliers.

“This bill seeks to address the compelling need for us as a nation to have indigenous participation in the industry,” Acting President Goodluck Jonathan said at a bill signing ceremony in the capital Abuja.

The law is likely to be a boon for local firms, such as Oando, which has been investing in oil exploration and production over the last few years to try to diversify its low-margin fuel distribution business. Nigerian banks, like First Bank, are also likely to benefit since the law requires multinational firms to keep at least 10 percent of their profits in local accounts. “There shall be exclusive consideration to Nigerian indigenous service companies which demonstrate ownership of equipment, Nigerian personnel and capacity to execute jobs in the Nigerian oil and gas industry,” Jonathan said.