Barely 24 hours after an apparent outcry by Senate President Ahmed Lawan that some unnamed persons within and outside the country are stalling passage of the all-important Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday, urged stakeholders to see it rather as an opportunity to transform the industry.
Stressing the need to agree on terms capable of creating a more competitive environment, while maximizing opportunities therein, he said the Bll, for example, cane used to address lingering issues that have impeded development across the different sectors that make up the industry.
Prof. Osinbajo, who spoke at a virtual meeting of industry stakeholders on the PIB under the auspices of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) in Nigeria, and Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), he said: “Businesses would like to invest and invest more in this environment. So, that is the point of convergence.
“We want more investments and obviously state governments like more investments, and you (private companies) would like to invest so that you can make more money. No question about that; what we should seek to do is to see to what extent we can come to that convergence,” the Vice President said.
This is why, he stressed, all stakeholders must find and agree on cheaper ways to produce oil. While doing this, he noted, there is need to ensurie a more competitive environment that meets the country’s needs and purposes, including the largest production volumes possible.
For him, there is “need to agree on terms that will give us a more competitive environment. We should find a way of producing oil cheaper at the largest volume possible given the circumstances and future of oil itself, and of course, given our requirements and needs.”
Continuing he said “the other point is that of gas. To sound the question of reconciling and maintaining our domestic gas obligation, and at the same time improving the gas environment in such a way that we are able to benefit maximally from it as a business and government.
“I like the concept that gas should be an enabler for quick development and I think that we must reach some kind of balance with this, especially with this question around domestic gas obligation. I would like OPTS and IPPG to look more carefully and see in what ways we can come to some agreements as to how it should be done.”
The new PIB, presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in September last year, has already passed the second reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The central aim of the bill is to foster sustainable development in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva, said the interaction with the stakeholders in the petroleum industry is indicative of their commitment to the transformation of the industry through the PIB.
He assured that working with other stakeholders, including the National Assembly, the PIB as conceived by the Buhari administration would be passed into law.
On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, said most of the concerns raised by stakeholders have been addressed in the proposal before the National Assembly, noting that the Federal Government has moved from its previous position to one that is more competitive and attractive to investors.
Commending the efforts of the Buhari administration in guiding the process of having a new law for the industry, the Chairman of OPTS, Mike Sangster, who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Total E&P Nigeria Ltd, said stakeholders remain committed to making Nigeria the “preeminent hydrocarbon province” in the region and the world.
Other participants at the meeting include the Chairman and Managing Director of ExxonMobil in Nigeria, Laing Richard; the Chairman of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Rick Kennedy; and the Chairman of IPPG, Mr Ademola Adeyemi-Bero, among others.