November 12, 2019

Petroleum minister bemoans ambiguity in Nigerian oil, gas laws

OPEC, OIL, crude oil

By Michael Eboh

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, yesterday, emphasized the need for a review of the constitution of the country, calling for clarity in the drafting of the laws of the country, especially legislations affecting the oil and gas industry.

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Sylva explained that clarity in the drafting of the laws would eliminate the many disagreements and lawsuits currently witnessed in the Nigerian oil and gas industry and save the country from huge judgement debts, such as the Process and Industrial Development, P&ID, issue.

Speaking in Abuja, at a workshop organized by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, for counsels of the Federal Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, Sylva also highlighted the need to build the capacity of judicial workers in the workings of the oil and gas industry.

Sylva, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Moses Olamide, noted that over the years, the Nigerian petroleum industry had operated with laws that were not in tandem with global standards, and had brought to the fore the need for a review of the legal issues of the industry.

He said, “The Nigerian oil and gas industry is a dynamic one. The exploration, production and contracting processes are complex and rapidly changing. The need for state counsels to be up to date with current happenings of the industry cannot be over-emphasised.

“For many years, the Nigerian oil and gas industry have been operating in an agglomeration of legislations and guidelines, which sometimes are not in harmony with the industry trends practiced globally. The oil and gas industry had developed focusing on increasing indigenous participation.

“Our best bets for the industry, it is better we write our laws very clearly. It is better we do all the negotiations possible; it is better we do all the reconciliation and conciliation that are possible; before we sign off on our laws. It is going to reduce a lot of acrimony. It is going to reduce a lot of fighting in the industry. Hence we appeal to the lawyers in this regard.

‘It is better we write our legal matters very clearly so as to eliminate all the acrimony that might arise in the legal system.”

He further called for constant training and re-training of lawyers to address the challenges in terms of the lacuna in the capacity building of legal practitioners.

Also speaking, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, revealed that the Ministry of Justice was working to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies under the ministry abide by the rule of law and due process in the discharge of their duties, especially as it relates to oil and gas issues.

Malami, who was represented by the Director of Legal Drafting of the Ministry of Justice, explained that the government was aware of the need to train and build the capacity of its staff, to enable the ministry achieve its objectives and also drive growth in the oil and gas industry.

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Speaking in the same vein, Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Dr. Bello Gusau, stated that the oil and gas industry was governed by intricate network of legislations, which was why it has become imperative that legal practitioners remained abreast of happenings in the industry.

“The PTDF finds it imperative to cooperate with the office of the attorney-general; of the federation in conducting this sensitization for judicial officers,” Gusau noted.