As reactions continue to trail the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by the House of Representatives, a member of the ad hoc committee on the bill, Kingsley Chima, said its passage would benefit everyone.
He explained that the bill as passed by the House protected the interests of the host communities, the oil companies, frontier basins and Nigeria at large.
The lawmaker made this known while briefing journalists on Friday in Abuja on the passage of the bill.
The executive bill was considered by the Committee of the Whole of the House on Thursday, and the recommendations proposed by the ad hoc committee were adopted by the House.
One of the most controversial parts of the bill is the frontier basins exploration fund. The executive had proposed 10 per cent rent for the fund which is meant for exploration of oil in other frontier basins.
However, in passing the bill, the lawmakers resolved to allocate 30 per cent of the proposed NNPC Limited oil profit for exploration.
Mr Chima said the decision was made following consultation with ‘experts’ and the executive.
“From all the reports we got, it is a win-win approach, for all stakeholders in the country. Frontier basin is not an exclusive reserve of a part of a country. Frontier basins are areas with oil prospects,” he said.
“According to the NNPC, they said we have about six basins. Yes, we can say the bulk of the basins are domiciled in a section of the country. Let me give you what will impress you today, whatever funds made available to these basins is not for chop. That fund is reserved for future explorations.
“This involves seismic operations, this involves geological analysis and to some extent, sub exploration, to convince investors that Nigeria has oil in commercial quantity in those places. The more we have oil, the better for us. In fact, the wish of the people of Niger Delta is, let oil be found in every community in Nigeria, if it is benefits that the people of Niger Delta are enjoying, let everyone enjoy it.
“In the last two weeks, we have been moving around offices, having meetings, trying to resolve the so-called grey areas. We invited the NNPC GMD (Mele Kyari), we invited the Minister of Petroleum (Timipriye Sylva).
“Two days ago, the GM of National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) was here, on this same issue of grey areas. We cannot be talking about Nigeria without getting numbers. The essence of their coming was to give us professional advice, giving us what is accruable to frontier basins and host communities.”
The lawmaker also disclosed that the committee had to accommodate the concerns of the oil companies by reviewing the proposal made by the government on the tax regime.
He noted that more countries are discovering oil, hence, Nigeria needs to have a competitive law.
“To encourage the investors to participate in the oil and gas sector, the National Assembly has a right, in consultation with experts, to do away such sections. I don’t see it as a compromise, what we tried to do is to make the best laws, that will meet international standards,” he said.
“Let me tell you why the National Assembly is so much in a hurry to pass this bill. You may be well informed that almost all the countries in Africa today are finding oil in commercial quantity.
“If we are not in a hurry to provide enabling environment and good governance arrangement, by way of law to encourage investors, we may end up keeping our oil like we have our coal today. We have coal in Enugu, Benue Kogi and other places, who is going to buy coal? We are trying to use this law to encourage IOCs and other investors.”
Mr Chima also expressed satisfaction with the 5 per cent host committee trust fund as passed by the House, although, the Senate passed 3 per cent.
“The five per cent would no longer be sent to proxies. These monies would be sent directly to a fund that would be established by the same host communities and which will be managed by the same host communities.
“So we would not have a situation where the host communities would say that they did not get their due share from oil explorations. So this fund would be sent to the host communities, deductible from the source. What it means is that you do not need to go begging for the money to be released to you,” he said.
The bill will still need to go for harmonisation by the joint committee of the Senate and the House due to differences in the bill passed by them.
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