By Inalegwu Shaibu & Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA — Senate President David Mark, yesterday, acknowledged the receipt of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, charging Senators to guide against the circulation of fake copies.
This came as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, yesterday threw light into the draft Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, saying the new Bill is tamper proof
Mark in a brief remark after reading a letter from President Goodluck Jonathan forwarding the bill to the Senate said the Senate had made 200 copies to avoid circulation of fake copies of the bill.
He urged the Senators to study the bill during their two-month recess period to enable them make valuable contributions when the Senate resumes in September.
We ‘ll be reasonable —Enang
Meanwhile, Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, has assured that the Senate would be reasonable while addressing the PIB.
Enang who addressed journalists, yesterday, inAbujaassured that the bill would not suffer the fate of the previous delays that led to the non-passage of the bill in the 6th Senate.
He said: “I want to urge Nigerians that we have just received this bill and I know it is in the character that pressure will be mounted and press campaigns that the National Assembly has just taken the bill and has gone on recess that they don’t take it as important.
“We will be very reasonable in our consideration of the bill knowing the importance that it has in investment in the petroleum sector. We will be reasonable in the timing and consideration. But please let there be reasonable reactions and comments so that they will not say the Senate collected it and went to sleep.”
Jonathan proposes N250bn for NDDC
Meanwhile, President Jonathan has also forwarded N250 billion to the Senate for consideration as budget proposal for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for 2012.
The President in a letter to the Senate read by David Mark said the budget was meant to effectively impact on the on-going government efforts to develop the Niger Delta region.
New PIB has special lock codes —Alison-Madueke
Alison-Madueke made the clarifications while receiving a delegation of the United States of American government led by Mr. Michael Froman, a Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States and Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs.
She said besides the watermarks bearing her own handwriting on every page, the draft Bill is locked in with a code such that no one can add to or remove anything from it without the code, explaining that she took the pain to secure the document to avoid the type of duplication that led to the emergence of fake versions of the old PIB which created confusion in the National Assembly.
The minister said the new PIB was drafted with equity in mind and that the concerns of the international oil companies were taken into consideration so as to engender a win-win situation forNigeriaas well as stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.
She listed some of the new provisions in the Bill to include those creating the Asset Management Company which will take over the management of the Joint Ventures from the NNPC which will be unbundled to make way for the establishment of a new company, the National Oil Company which will be competitive and profit-driven.
The minister also briefed the US delegates on the worrisome trend of professional and foreign involvement in crude oil theft, adding that with the establishment of a Special Task Force made up of senior military officers, more arrests are being made and that the President has directed the Attorney General of the Federation to ensure diligent prosecution of any oil thief arrested.
She said effort was on to introduce a number of measures such as electronic bill of laden, DNA tracking and certification of Nigerian crude oil to make it less attractive for it to be stolen.
On gas development, the Minister explained that when the new PIB is passed into law, “it is expected that gas will be the next area of explosion for the country and it will take over from crude oil because Nigeria is actually a gas nation considering the enormous gas reserves we have. “There is a robust plan for the commercialization of gas resources to serve as feed stock for industry and not just gas for power generation; in this connection, we have an arrangement with Nagarjuna of India and Xenel of Saudi Arabia to establish fertilizer and petrochemical plants and a central processing plant to make gas the fulcrum of industrial development,” Alison-Madueke stated.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Engr. Andrew Yakubu, corroborated the Minister’s presentation on efforts being made to commercialize gas, saying that gas infrastructure were being aggressively developed to get gas to end users as well as to align gas supply with demand.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Mr. Froman, commended the Minister for taking the pain to ensure the authentication of the PIB, urging her to remain open to on-going dialogue over the bill.