By Michael Eboh & Sebastine Obasi
ABUJA— Federal Government, yesterday, stated that until all the components of Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, were passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the Presidency, no new licencing rounds for oil wells would be conducted.
Speaking in Abuja at Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, symposium on the PIB, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the Federal Government would only award new licences for oil production under new legislation.
Kachikwu, who was represented by his Senior Technical Adviser on Efficiency, Mr. Johnson Awoyomi, emphasised the need for transparency and clear policy direction in Nigerian petroleum industry.
He said: “Finally, it is a national priority to have certainty and clarity over the operations of the petroleum industry as it will foster more licensing rounds, enhance revenues and increased economic activities.
He said: “New acreages will be awarded for exploration and production under new laws and terms, especially offshore, which is likely to account for much of the growth in the nation’s reserves.
“For too long, we have waited for this moment with bated breath and sheer excitement, knowing that the bill will disentangle us from the manacles of inefficiency, low investment drive and opacity.”
Kachikwu said stakeholders must relish the urgency of the current stage the various petroleum bills were, stating that all hands should be on deck to ensure the bill achieved what it was meant to achieve.
“Getting to the yes on the PIGB is a great milestone, I am so glad we have begun heeding the clarions call,” he noted.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, however, stated that passage and assent to the bill do not signify the end of the sector’s challenges, noting that the most crucial part aspect is the implementation of Bill when it eventually becomes law.
He said: “But we will be deluded to think the job is done. It is not. Succumbing to such a temptation will be wrong-headed and misdirected. And here, we are not just talking about the need to finally pass the PIGB and transmit it to the President for assent.
“And not even about ensuring that the other three bills are passed and signed. It is more about ensuring effective implementation of the resultant laws in ways that will reposition and transform our oil and gas sector to become a real blessing, and not this needless curse, for our people.”
“Our expectation is that we will address many of the questions that have been asked, including those yet to be asked, or at least set us thinking seriously about these questions. Some of these include: what transitional arrangements are being contemplated? What is the plan for the fiscal, host community and administrative bills?’’