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Reps Consider PIB Passage next Week

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has said that the House will commence the consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) next week.

Ihedioha disclosed this at the plenary on Tuesday announcing that clean copies of the report of itsad hoc committee on the bill have been forwarded to the lawmakers.

The ad hoc committee, led by the Chief Whip, Hon. Ishaku Mohammed Bawa, had presented the report in March, 2015 after almost three years.

The committee scrutinised the 363 sections and annexures of the original bill and made some amendments and recommendations. The 23-member committee held public hearings in the six geo-political zones, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which gave stakeholders and the general public the opportunity tocontribute to the law.

The original bill covered salient areas such as establishment of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, incorporation of National Gas Company, establishment of Petroleum Directorate and National Asset Management Company as well as imposition of a new tax regime such as the Nigeria Carbon Tax.

In the report, the committee recommended the “complete removal” of section 191 of the bill that gives the President discretional powers to grant petroleum licences and lease and instead proposed biddings for the award of licences.

On the powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the committee retained the conventional powers of the Minister under section 6 of the bill, but, recommended the removal of powers of the Minister, either to serve as chairman or to recommend to the President the appointment of chairmen of boards of such agencies.

The committee also amended section 174 recommending that 30 per cent of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) shares be sold through public offers at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as well as section 185 proposing that 49 per cent of Nigerian Gas Company shares be sold through public offers at the Stock Exchange.

The report recommended the creation of Frontier Oil Services Agency in sections 193 to 217 to step up exploration activities in various Frontier Acreages of Nigeria’s oil industry which comprises, among others, the Anambra, Sokoto, Benin, Chad and Benue Basins. The Frontier Oil Service is to be funded through taxes from oil producing operations as well as National Budgetary allocations in a dual funding strategy aimed at strengthening the Agency’s and its operations so as to broaden government’s revenue base.This is captured in section 209.

Also, in the report, oil production measurement is to be made at the flow station and not at the point of export. Under section 116, the Petroleum Host Community Fund is created to benefit any community where oil facilities and installations such as pipelines, depots and refineries are located. Under section 203, the committee retained environmental remediation funds, which obligates petroleum investors to pay adequate compensation for the remediation of environmental damage.

The committee in section 225- 229 retained three conventional licensing systems namely petroleum exploration licence, petroleum prospecting licence and petroleum mining leases but with different durations for the licences regimes. It has also retained with some amendments, provisions in the bill which uphold the sanctity of existing petroleum contracts.

The House had in its resolution of November 15, 2012 constituted the ad hoc committee on PIB with the mandate to look into the bill and make recommendations on how or what form to pass the bill into act that will provide for legal, fiscal and regulatory framework for the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, while fielding questions from reporters after a budget session with the House on Tuesday, said that Nigeria was losing due to the non-passage of the bill and appealed to the National Assembly to pass it before the end of the 7th Assembly.

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