…denies rumours of NNPC, refinery sale
Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja
There are indications that the orchestrated Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) may be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of June 2019, when the 9th National Assembly would have convened.
Giving an update on the fate of the Bill, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, said however that if Mr President returns the Bill to the National Assembly as he had done in the past, it may become uncertain when the PIB will be passed into law.
Speaking during a media parley at the African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) in Cape VII, Equatorial Guinea, the minister also said that the Dangote refinery is scheduled to go onstream in 2021. This clarification became important given the uncertainty hovering over the April 2019 take off time for the Dangote refinery made last year by both the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
On the general state of refinery development, as well as the development of private sector refineries in Nigeria, the minister said it was important that the four state-owned refineries in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri became operational again, even though it was not the reason for the delays experienced in the private refinery development in Nigeria.
In regard to the OPEC production cuts, the minister said Nigeria is “committed as a country” to the cuts because of the stability this has brought to oil prices, particularly when there are “lots of factors outside our control.”
Giving a hint of things to come under the 9th National Assembly, the Minister was critical of some production sharing contracts (PSCs) and joint ventures which favour private companies heavily over the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He said he would like to see private companies doing more in terms of local content development and ensuring the money made from hydrocarbons projects benefits the people of Nigeria, and vowed to “challenge” some of the PSCs and joint ventures which he did not think were mutually beneficial.
He dispelled any rumours that the Federal Government may consider the sale of either the NNPC or the refineries. “I will consider a review of PSCs and (in regard to joint ventures) there is no government policy to sell NNPC interests,” he said. Following on from the theme of the opening ceremony addresses of pan-African cooperation, the minister said “cross-border exchange of ideas and technical transfer” was important, as well as the need to “look southward” to opportunities with South Africa, utilising its refining capacity as well as extending pipeline networks across the continent.
Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the PIB into law, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, issued a press release citing three reasons for the President’s refusal to assent to the PIB
According to him, the President cited the funding of the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC) through its proposed retention of 10% of the funds it collects on behalf of the FG and regarded it as inordinately high and would deprive the federal, state and local governments of a significant proportion of available revenue;
The PIB was also said to extend the scope of activities of the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) in contradiction to the policies of the federal government; and the drafting inconsistencies