By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Adhoc Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) of the House of Representatives has been told that it was criminal for the federal government to expend a whooping sum of $1.2 billion on importation of petrol into the country in one year.
An expert in the oil and gas sector, Dr. Austine Olorunsola made the declaration while fielding questions from the Committee chaired Hon. Ado Doguwa during an interactive session organised by the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF) on PIB.
A member of the Committee, Hon. Sunday Karimi had provoked some thoughts, remarking that the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently denied spending money on subsidy despite revelations by the NNPC that it’s spending N1.4trillion annually to bring in the product.
But responding, Olorunsola, who led a technical team of experts in the drafting and presentation of different components of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) said the importation was unnecessary, explaining that the money was enough to build new refineries.
He said: “It’s criminal to spend $1.2billion to bring in products. You can use that amount to build three to four big refineries if you want.
“You can even use that money to open up the market by giving soft loans to private investors if government is not interested in building refineries to establish them so that we can stop importation and create employment”.
The PIB according to the consultant was split into four different components, namely: the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), the Petroleum Industry Administration Bill (PIAB), the Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill (PIFB), and the Petroleum Industry Host Community Bill (PHCB).
Olorunsola who also took the Committee members through the technical details of different components of the PIB, made up of four proposed legislations underscored the importance of the bill, saying it would engender comprehensive governance of the oil and gas sector in a way that would generate maximum returns to the stakeholders.
He however cautioned the country on over independence on oil, urging that the proceeds be used to diversify the economy to keep pace with other oil economies.
“Nigeria must timely exploit her oil and gas resources to realise maximum value for rapid development of her economy.
”So we need to move pretty fast. The US today has become the biggest producer of oil which wasn’t so about 8 years ago.
“Now China has retired most of its coal energy sources and diversified into renewable energy sources with a sea of solar panels being assembled to power cities and industries.
“So the dynamics are changing as those who were importing before are now exporting, which is why we need to do something different and fast. If you don’t do something quickly about what you have, the value of it will be completely eroded.
“The essence of managing oil resources is to provide the best possible economic outcome for all stakeholders, ensure optimal utilisation of all infrastructure; to ensure operations is managed in safe and environmentally sustainable manner. To satisfy today and ensure sufficient savings for the rainy day and future generations”, Olorunsola said.
He urged the deputy chairman of the Adhoc committee, Hon. Victor Nwokolo (PDP, Delta) who is incidentally the Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), and indeed, the National Assembly at large to pass the remaining three bills along with the PIGB for onward delivery to president Buhari for his assent.