The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be presented to the National Assembly in the “next few weeks,” Timipre Sylva, the minister of state for petroleum resources, has said.
Mr Sylva said the executive arm would be requesting the lawmakers to specially reconvene to receive and begin deliberations on the Bill.
According to him, the bill is key to the repositioning of Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry under its post-COVID-19 agenda.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister spoke on Thursday during a webinar organised by the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) with the theme : “Fiscal Regime Design, Government Revenues and Investors’ Interest in Nigeria Oil and Gas Sector.”
Mr Sylva said: “I cannot give a specific timeline on the passage of the PIB because it involves the National Assembly.
“I can only give you our own timeline and what we have been doing.
“For us, I will tell you that we have finished our job. The drafting process has been concluded and we have also discussed with the relevant stakeholders in the industry.
“The Ministry of Justice has also looked at the draft to ensure that there are no issues, and that has been concluded.
“In the coming few days, we will be requesting the National Assembly to specially reconvene to look at the PIB, which may as well take some weeks before its passage.”
The minister, who said earlier in the year that the bill would be passed mid-2020, expressed optimism that it would be expeditiously dealt with by the lawmakers, given that it had taken the country years to get it to this stage.
He said: “Government needs maximum fiscal environment to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. For this reason, we are proposing grandfathering in the new PIB.
“This, I believe will preserve current government take, while also guaranteeing investors’ returns.
“It also guarantees that investors can continue with the existing operations while earning favourable returns.
“The proposed PIB framework shall be based on core principles of clarity, dynamism, neutrality, open access and fiscal rules of general application.
“At the same time, investments in new acreages will be encouraged with attractive competitive terms in order to achieve an economic growth.
“Investors in existing assets will be able to sign conversion contracts to obtain better terms for existing production, and to be able to explore and produce part of the existing blocks under the new block terms.”
According to him, investors that also want to continue operating under the current fiscal terms can choose to do so.
Mr Sylva said that the host communities would be adequately covered to foster sustainable prosperity within the communities, provide direct social and economic benefits from petroleum operations to the host communities.
He also maintained that a diversification plan to non-oil economy had become a national imperative due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the oil and gas industry and other sectors of the economy.
“The PIB will provide a framework for increased petroleum industry activities in terms of developing gas for the domestic market and increasing oil production under competitive terms and support the goal of a stronger non-oil economy for the benefit of all Nigerians,” Mr Sylva added.
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