Experts call for quick passage of PIB amid threat of COVID-19 to oil and gas sector

Experts call for quick passage of PIB amid threat of COVID-19 to oil and gas sector

- Oil and gas experts have called for a legal framework on subsidy removal

- The experts posited that the Nigerian oil and gas industry requires urgent reforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic

- They called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, provide a legal or policy framework that backs subsidy removal

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Participants at an online workshop organised to review key issues that require urgent reforms in the oil and gas industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic have called for accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)

The workshop organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) drew participants from various civil society groups as well as the media.

In a communique signed by CTA executive director, Ms Faith Nwadishi, the participants stressed that they are hopeful that the reform actions suggested during the workshop if taken, could send a strong positive signal to the world, and also ensure that the oil and gas industry is properly positioned to stimulate a rapid recovery of the Nigerian economy in the post-COVID-19 period.

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Experts call for quick passage of PIB amid threat of COVID-19 to oil and gas sector

Oil and gas experts want the Buhari's government to sign the PIB amid threat of COVID-19. Photo credit: Aso Rock
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The participants said subsidy removal, deregulation of the downstream sub-sector; and acceleration of the submission, passage, and assent to the PIB are urgent reforms needed.

On subsidy removal, the workshop welcomed the announcement made by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, on the immediate cessation of subsidy on Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS).

It, however, urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, provide a legal or policy framework that backs the pronouncement in order to prevent a possible reversal in the future.

It argued that the federal government should make clear its plan to midwife the transition to a zero-subsidy dispensation which should include how the savings from subsidy would be utilized, how the impact of possible future increase in the pump price of fuel on the poor would be alleviated, and how local refining capacity would be improved.

Part of the communique reads: “On the Petroleum Industry Bill: That the urgent need to overhaul the regulatory framework for the oil and gas industry has been further highlighted by the current crisis facing the industry

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“That the executive should, without further delay, submit a draft PIB (in whole or in parts) to the National Assembly for consideration. In turn, the National Assembly, when they receive the bill (or bills), should accord it the urgency it deserves by fast-tracking its consideration and passage

“Overall, we advocate that these actions need to be taken immediately in this period (of lockdown/partial lockdown), as the post-COVID-19 conjecture, from all indications, does not appear favourable.”

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Meanwhile, stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have said that previous bid rounds in Nigeria's marginal oil fields revealed a sharp decline in interest from serious investors, both local and foreign.

The stakeholders, therefore, recommended to the federal government that terms governing licensing round must be open and transparent, saying this will boost investors confidence.

This was part of resolutions reached at the end of a one-day workshop on improving transparency in the oil licensing process organised by a coalition of civil society organisations and the media.

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