AFTER operating for more than 50 years without a comprehensive petroleum law, an all-encompassing Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, is still going through the birth pang throes. For the umpteenth time, the bill is before the National Assembly. The pregnancy of the variant PIB which was the outcome of the Oil and Gas Reform Implementation Committee, OGIC, started during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo and was still birth during the Yar’ Adua/Jonathan presidency which ended in 2011. Several attempts to get the bill, which was to reform the industry, passed in the past despite the enthusiasm on the part of the executive arm of the federal government failed. It encountered many road blocks at the National Assembly. Before the end of the sixth National Assembly, the Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, exuded confidence that the bill would be passed. That confidence was effectively deflated when the National Assembly closed shop without passing it. Right now, the PIB is again on the door step of the seventh National Assembly where it is generating hot air with the international oil companies, known for their deep pockets, seriously working against it. Why? Part of their grouse is the fiscal regime in the PIB which will not allow them to do business as usually and where they had a free hand to determine how Nigeria should run its oil and gas sector to their benefit. Unfortunately, most Nigerians are not conversant with what the PIB contains and some erroneously tend to be working at cross purposes with the government. As it is our usual practice, Realnews has the original PIB which the federal government sent to the National Assembly. The bill contains most of the legal requirements that will apply to the entire oil and gas sector in the country. More importantly, the new bill will empower indigenous operators to participate actively in the sector and covers a gamut of areas including good governance, transparency, revenues, small field development, modern acreage management, the role of the NNPC, incorporated joint ventures, Nigerian content, host community/social responsibility and the gas master plan. The PIB combines 16 different Nigerian petroleum laws in a single transparent and coherent document. In this our cover story, entitled: “The Gang-Up Against PIB: Why IOCs Want it Killed” Olu Ojewale, general editor, has masterfully dissected the basics of the bill to enable Nigerians understand and follow the ongoing debate on the PIB. It is part of our social responsibility to our readers. Enjoy it.
— Dec. 17, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT