*As NNPC welcomes moves to be split into three entities

*Labour demands workers’ interests in new law

By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Henry Umoru

ABUJA—SENATE President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, said the protracted Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, would be passed by the Senate before the end of January, 2017.

This came as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, threw its weight behind moves by the Senate to unbundle the corporation into three entities.

The three-proposed entities are the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NPRC, that will serve as a regulator for the entire Petroleum Industry, both the Upstream, Midstream and the downstream, and the Nigeria Petroleum Assets Management Company, NPAMC, that would serve as counterpart and administrator of production sharing agreements and such other risk-based agreements as the government may decide to conclude.

The third is the Nigeria Petroleum Company, NPC, as a vertically integrated oil and gas company operating as a fully commercial entity across the value chain that includes the current Joint Venture Operations, NPDC Operations, Frontier Exploration and other Upstream/ Service activities, Refinery and Petrochemicals, Downstream Activities as well as sale and disposal of crude oil and products.

Saraki and Ekweremadu

Interests of oil workers

In the mean time, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have called on the National Assembly to include interests of the workers in the PIGB ahead of its passage.

Declaring open   a 3-day public hearing on PIGB, organized by Senate   Joint Committees on Petroleum, Upstream, Petroleum (Downstream) and Gas, Saraki, who noted that   the passage of the bill would open a new vista in the oil and gas industry, said,   “The petroleum industry remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Oil and gas have been, and will likely remain for the foreseeable future, Nigeria’s most important non-renewable energy source. The industry contributes over 90% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.”

The Senate President, who lamented that the non-passage of the bill for almost 16 years had negatively affected Nigeria, said: “This all-important sector of the economy has for too long performed below efficiency indexes, with government and investors alike losing significant edge in the oil and gas investment trends.

The case for change cannot be more compelling considering that existing petroleum legal, regulatory and institutional structures are out-dated. It is unacceptable that till date, we still import over 90% of needed petroleum products (petrol and chemicals), we flare substantial gas produced, we have damaged our eco-systems and polluted our communities and cannot supply adequate electricity to our homes and industries.

“This situation has undermined our citizens’ standard of living, life expectancy, our national energy security and has resulted to other unforeseen fall-outs like labour unrest; fuel queues; high cost of delivery of products; high cost of delivery of overall services in the overall economy; and unquantifiable wastage of national productivity as a result.

The state of the industry globally today has heightened and made it imperative that either we comprehensively reform our local industry to have a chance to keep it alive or become extinct. The oil and gas industry is yearning for good governance, competitiveness, transparency, indigenous participation and accountability.”

What bill seeks to achieve

On what the  passage of the bill seeks to achieve, the Senate President said that it would  “create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry, establish a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit driven petroleum entities that ensure value addition and internationalization of the petroleum industry and promote transparency in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria and create a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.

“Let me reassure all stakeholders that this is just the beginning. We will also tackle the issues of downstream, gas and the environment. We are poised and resolved that we will deal with all issues related to the industry, albeit in tranches. This will ensure thoroughness and effectiveness. As a nation, we cannot afford any further delay in our effort to reform our oil and gas industry.

“The journey begins now and I assure you that we will guarantee that all of these bills are passed in record time. I wish you all very fruitful deliberations.”

Meanwhile, speaking when he appeared before the   public hearing on PIGB, Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the corporation acknowledged the significance of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Governance and Industrial Framework Bill, 2015 and its relevance to the effective conduct of petroleum operations in Nigeria.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.