The nation’s total oil reserves, which is targeted at increasing from about 37 billion to 40 billion barrels by 2025 is believed to be under threat due to the absence of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The current National Assembly has promised to ensure that the Bill is finally passed into law. The PIB is a comprehensive legislation targeted at overhauling the petroleum industry, entrenching efficiency and transparency and bringing operations in line with international standards.

Observers believe that the new national target is also under threat, as operators, including International Oil Companies (IOCs), and their indigenous counterparts have not started to do much toward bringing planned projects to fruition.

The industry observers say PIB should have been completed before now to attract investments into the oil and gas sector.

“It should be noted that oil and gas require long-term investments, ranging from medium to long term planning and collaboration with many people and organisations, including consultants, technical partners and financiers. We need to tap into new opportunities in Nigeria and the PIB would be one of the main determinants.

“We intend to wait, even if it takes a much longer time to complete work on the PIB. But it should be stressed that this would also prolong the time required for oil companies to decide on new projects to push forward, mobilise funds, and take Final Investment Decisions (FID), before moving ahead to implement them in order to add to the nation’s reserves,” an observer said.

The observers insist that despite the claims of commitment to seeing the PIB to fruition, the National Assembly lawmakers are not doing enough. In his new year message, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva had said, “The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is now at an advanced stage and the bill would be passed by the middle of this year.”

Chairman, House of Representatives committee on treaties, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai said it would be passed in the first quarter, that is January – March 2020. “I don’t know whether the committee has been constituted already because you know it is an ad-hoc committee that does that, including some members of the Petroleum Upstream Committee,” he said, recalling that the Speaker and the Senate President made it clear that it is one of the priority bills that will pass first or second quarter of this year.

In an interview, Sen. Godiya Akwashiki, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs called on Nigerians to stop making imaginary statements over the PIB. “I do not know why Nigerians are speculating on when the PIB will be passed or not, especially when it has not yet been presented to the current Senate.

“They should wait for the PIB to be presented to the current Senate and we take it from there. The fact is that if any bill was presented and discussed by the 8th National Assembly, but not completed or accented to by the President, it has to be presented again.

“This means that PIB will have to go through the normal process of first reading, second reading, committee review, a public hearing among others.

“This explains why we should not start to put time frame to it; the most important thing is that the current National Assembly is committed to it,” he said.

Chibisi Ohakah

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