Group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said the corporation will require no less than one year to fine-tune and re-present the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Kachikwu also revealed that due to the long time it would take to rework the PIB, re-present it to the National Assembly and wait for its passage, the corporation would commence its reforms without the bill.
The NNPC GMD disclosed these when he chaired a special session on the proposed law at the ongoing 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja entitled,’ Legal and Regulatory Framework of the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria: Review of Existing Laws and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).’
He described the bill as an essential legislation which must be approached with all the seriousness and thoroughness it deserves.
“The PIB is important, but we need to x-ray the issues. We need at least one year to get it back on track. The reality is that we cannot afford to wait any longer for change in the petroleum sector. Because of the delay in the passage of PIB, things have got to start happening and that’s exactly what we are doing.
“PIB is a serious affair; it is an essential piece of legislation but, as we all know, a lot of engagement is required to address all the issues because the oil and gas environment has changed. There are issues of cost; with oil going down to $40 per barrel, the PIB cannot be the same,” he stated.
He explained that the PIB requires extensive engagements with all stakeholders to iron out all grey areas, which would take about one year to complete.
He insisted that because of the volume of extensive consultation and time required to make the bill a workable document, it is only natural to kick-start the reforms in the industry with the existing laws while waiting for the eventual passage of the proposed law.
“The reform of the petroleum industry is key and it is an area where we are going to put a lot of focus. Sometimes people don’t realize that the problem hasn’t been NNPC, it is a problem of political will to go forward and implement the outcome of researches and reports that had been done. But fortunately for us this time around, that is what the president has brought to the table. He has strong political will to see this through,’’ he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, former president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, noted that although the PIB was key, the industry could begin to activate essential reforms in the sector with existing laws.
LEADERSHIP reports that the PIB has been pending before the National Assembly in the last seven years. It is believed that they are about seven versions of the bill in circulation.