13/07/2012: FEC approves draft Petroleum Industry Bill
The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the draft of the new Petroleum Industry Bill prepared by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
With the approval, President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to forward the draft bill to the National Assembly for passage any moment from now.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, said this to State House correspondents at the end of the council’s weekly meeting.
Alison-Madueke said the bill, which is an aggregate of about 16 laws in the oil and gas industry, would go a long way in making the nation’s petroleum industry the preferred destination of oil and gas investors.
She said one of the highlights of the new bill was the unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to give room for vibrant successor companies.
Some of the companies to be unbundled from the old NNPC, according to the minister, are the National Oil Company, National Gas Company and National Asset Management Corporation, which will now be private sector driven.
She said new agencies such as the National Frontiers Exploration Services, Host Community Fund and Regulatory Inspectorate for the downstream sector, would also emerge as unique departments that would be reporting directly to the minister.
Alison-Madueke said, “The new bill looks at new areas that are quite critical and first of all they are the inspectorate, the regulatory agencies for the oil and gas sector to ensure that they are independent and that they can actually do the regulation.
“We also looked of course at the unbundling of the NNPC, which has been very critical; created out of the old NNPC a National Oil Company, which will be independent. It will be a registered company, which will have shareholding and it will be ceded acreages and will also, as we face and implement the PIB, take over current infrastructure in the oil and gas sector like refineries, depots and certain downstream entities as well as production sharing contracts.”
The minister added, “We created an Asset Management Corporation as a holding company, which will operate an asset management company that will be a competitive private sector driven company, and it will hold what is today the joint company hydro carbon assets of the nation.
“We expect of course that as time goes on, that company will operate essentially along the line of private sector to give the federation the right returns on investments in the hydro carbon sector. We looked at a couple of new agencies as well; the National Frontiers Exploration Services unit that will reside in the new Petroleum Policy Bureau, which will be a technical arm of the minister’s secretariat.”
Alison-Madueke further explained that some existing parastatals in the ministry such as the Petroleum Training Institute, Petroleum Trust Development Fund, Petroleum Equalisation Fund and National Content Development Management Board would continue to exist until they were no longer necessary.
While saying that the country would gain more money when the bill was passed into law, the minister added that details of the fiscal regime would be subject of future discourse.
She said the Executive arm of government would continue to work with the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the bill was passed into law as soon as possible.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, had earlier said the objective of the new PIB was to ensure that the country’s petroleum sector became more competitive and able to attract more foreign investments.
Maku said the bill would promote rapid development and make the oil sector competitive, accountable and transparent.
He said the draft was a product of wide consultations with relevant stakeholders.