Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said that his ministry will within two weeks transmit the revised Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the National Assembly for passage into law.
He also put the value of the recently inaugurated Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipelines and the Train 7 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) projects at $50 billion.
Sylva, in an interview on ARISE NEWS Channel, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, added that 2020 remains “the year of gas” and with the expected passage of the PIB, the industry would attract more investment.
He said: “It (the PIB) has not been watered down. I don’t know who has seen the bill. It’s still in draft. It has gone through several modifications. That’s the whole idea. You can’t change the laws very easily.
“It tells you that when we are able to pass the bill, it won’t change for a long time because it has taken us about 20 years to get to where we are. It’s now ready to go to the National Assembly. But it has not been watered down.
“Everything has been done in the national interest and in the interest of Nigeria and we are hoping that in the next two weeks, we will be ready to go to the National Assembly, and then people can talk. Before seeing the bill, you can’t say it has been watered down.
“It’s a bill at the foundation of the main industry. There are lots of parts to it: community, government, industry, everybody’s interest has to be accommodated.
“We have been able to take a lot of interests on board. Not everybody will be on the same page. There’s no way government and private sector will be on the same page 100 per cent, but what we have tried to do is to narrow the gap as much as possible.
“Right now, we are ready to go to the National Assembly, so we can get this bill passed.”
The minister also said the Train 7 project would boost Nigeria’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) output by more than 30 per cent while the AKK pipeline project would transport natural gas from Ajaokuta, in Kogi to Kaduna and Kano, and through some states and urban centres, as part of the Trans Nigeria Gas programme.
Sylva added that modular refineries would not solve Nigeria’s petrol supply challenges as they are not structured to serve large markets.
“This has been a good year for gas, especially with the overwhelming support of President Muhammadu Buhari. We have achieved quite a bit. We have achieved the FID (Final Investment Decision) of train 7 and the flag-off of the AKK pipelines.
“These are two major projects valued at about $50 billion or so and that’s quite a lot at this time of COVID-19 and we are proud of that,” he said.
He noted that apart from the opportunities that will come with the AKK project, which is now a backbone from the south to the north, it will also, create a development corridor for the industry.
Speaking on the increase in the pump price of petrol, Sylva said there was nowhere in the world where prices were solely decided by marketers, despite the recent deregulation of the downstream sector.
“So, we will not allow consumers to just wake up and set prices. Diesel was deregulated a long time ago. Before then, it always was cheaper than petrol, but today it has hit the roof. If we allow it, petrol will also get to that level.
“But what we are trying to do is to ensure that government plays its traditional role of regulation,” he explained.
The minister also said that Nigeria is currently developing its local content in the petroleum industry to avoid being stranded when major issues that would lead to the evacuation of expatriates arise.
Sylva said: “I will say that if we ever needed to develop local content, there’s no better time to do that because, with COVID-19, it could have been a disaster.
“Every country evacuated its citizens. For example, in the oil industry, expatriates mostly were evacuated by their countries. So, you were left with Nigerians who were evacuated from other countries as well.
“So, more than ever before, there is a need to develop local content. We are not taking it lightly, there’s an agency for that purpose.” – Thisday.