By Edith Ike- Eboh
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva says he is optimistic that the petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) pending before the National Assembly will be passed before May.
Sylva disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that the team working on the PIB was at the final stage of harmonisation of all the existing versions from 2000 to date (2009, 2012, and 2018) with consideration to the concerns raised by industry players.
This, he said would help to create an enabling environment for investors as well as appropriate government take in all the oil and gas value chain.
He said that the PIB would be passed as a single bill but would likely accommodate two regulators for the sector
The PIB was unbundled into three parts: Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), Administration & Host Communities Bill and Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill.
“Counting on the current harmony between the Executive and Legislative arms of Government, we are optimistic that both the Petroleum Industry Governance, Administration & Host Communities Bill on one hand and Petroleum Industry Fiscal Bill on the other will be passed within the first anniversary of this administration,
“In fact, we are hoping that it will be passed before May,’’ he said.
The minister of state said that the PIB will be one bill, adding “ we are not taking it as a Bill in parts, we are going to take it as a bulk bill.
” It would be passed as the PIB,’’ he added.
The minister of state noted that special focus would be placed on the Midstream and Downstream sectors, adding that two regulators were being considered for the industry.
“One for the Upstream (the Commission), and another for the Midstream & Downstream (the Authority).
“The Midstream and Downstream sectors will particularly open enormous opportunities to local investors and consequently create massive job opportunities in the country.
“For example, investments will be available in pipeline engineering design, procurement & construction, terminal operations, pipe mills, fabrication of pressure vessels, storage facilities, and pipe transportation among others,’’ he noted
According to him, open access for oil and gas transportation will be fully enhanced.
On the upstream side, he said government would come up with more robust fiscal provision, acreage management and drilling-or-drop programme,
“ We are not only going to retain investors, multitudes will join the leagues of high-value operators,’’he said.
.Sylva also said that the government plans to conduct bid rounds for new acreages in the petroleum industry, noting, however, that non-passage of the PIB was delaying the conduct of the rounds.
He said the decision of the government to delay the award of new acreages until after the passage of the PIB was because the bill would ensure a clearer fiscal environment and also eliminate the stagnation in the industry.
On Refinery revamp, he reiterated the Federal Government’s committment to ensure the refineries function optimally.
He noted that when the refineries become fully functional, the Federal Government intends to undertake an operations and management contract.
According to him, with the contract, experts will be brought in to manage the refineries effectively and cut down on all unnecessary costs.