The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) has called for urgent reforms in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to enable the corporation function in line with international best practices.
Muriana Ajibola, the Chairman of the Committee, made the call in Abuja on Thursday when he led members on an oversight visit to the corporation’s Headquarters in Abuja.
Mr. Ajibola said the efficiency of the NNPC is very important in view of the strategic role it plays in the economic development of the nation.
He said the committee is poised to enthrone accountability in the corporation and warned that “it is no longer going to be business as usual”.
“Oversight will no longer be business as usual. Transparency and accountability will be taken very seriously and any infractions will be severely punished,” he said.
The chair said the committee is also interested in examining the corporation’s internally-generated revenue profile with a view to making it more viable.
He stressed the need to urgently pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and assured that the National Assembly would give the bill accelerated hearing once it was presented to the House.
Earlier, Austen Oniwon, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, had called for better synergy between the National Assembly and the corporation.
He decried the high level of insecurity in the sector and the increasing spate of oil theft in the country which, he said, is hampering the corporation’s production and the nation’s economy.
“As of today, our activities and operations have been severely hampered by the activities of these criminals because we lose about 180,000 barrels of crude oil daily to criminals.”
Mr. Oniwon also said the activities of illegal refineries and those involved in illegal bunkering constitute a serious environmental hazard and urged the lawmakers to assist in tackling the menace.
He stressed the need for the NNPC to be empowered to become a strong national oil company comparable in terms of local production to those in Libya and Iran.
“There is a need for us to have a very strong national oil company just like we have in Libya and Iran.
“When Libya was ostracised they continued to produce 1.6 million barrels per day because they had a strong national oil company.
“Today Iran is still producing over three million barrels per day in spite of the sanctions imposed on the country; this is because they have a strong national oil company that can rise to the occasion,” Mr. Oniwan said.
He said the NNPC is working with all stakeholders to ensure that the Petroleum Industry Bill is presented to the National Assembly, and called for the support of the lawmakers in this regard.
Mr. Oniwon said the delay in the passage of the bill has led to a lot of uncertainties in the industry with most investors now drifting to neighbouring countries because of the enabling environment there.