In the light of the present state of the country’s oil industry, the bill needs to be passed immediately to initiate the regulation and control of Nigeria’s most important industry, as it is definitely the roadmap for the future of our oil industry.
With less than one-year to the expiration of the tenure of the Nation’s seventh National Assembly, and three months to the 2015 elections, the question is; has the curtain finally been drawn against the Petroleum Industry Bill which is presently before the Senate and House of Representatives? Indeed, considering the present disposition of the Honourable Members who are neck-deep in political activities leading to the February 2015 elections, while legislative duties suffer, it seems the PIB bill may not be given attention before the year runs out.
This scenario is quite unfortunate as the PIB bill is expected to provide opportunity to restructure and reform the oil industry, which has become chaotic. While a segment of Nigerians may have some reasons to differ with certain aspects of the PIB bill, there is however a general consensus that the petroleum and gas sector in Nigeria certainly requires a drastic reform to redeem the sector from its present situation. Obviously, the country as the fifth largest producer of oil has been disappointing with managing its most important natural resource. Certainly, the absence of a strong regulatory process in all aspects of the operation of the industry in form of inspection and jurisdictional based quality control has been the bane of the sector, giving it a black market appeal. Increasing security problems as a result of oil theft, coupled with pipeline vandalism and reported piracy on –going in the Gulf of Guinea have all added to the problems of the oil industry.
That the country’s federal legislative body is yet to have the bill passed definitely has implications for exploration activities in Nigeria. Only last week a release from the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) indicated that the Nation’s crude oil reserves have declined from 37.2 billion barrels in 2011 to 31.8 billion barrels as at October 2014. Also from 38.5 billion barrels in 2008, the Country’s oil reserves dropped to37.5billion barrels in 2010. According to the reports the reserves had further slumped to 37.2billion barrels in 2011.The thinking among industry experts is that further delay of the passage of the bill would imply that the loss to the oil sector may exceed $125 billion by 2015 when serious deliberations on the bill are likely to commence. It is believed that government business may face a turbulence which may impact negatively on the economy of the country which depends mostly on oil proceeds to finance its budget.
Therefore, we believe that it would be in the interest of Nigeria if both Federal Houses pass the PIB bill. In the light of the present state of the country’s oil industry, the bill needs to be passed immediately to initiate the regulation and control of Nigeria’s most important industry, as it is definitely the roadmap for the future of our oil industry. The leadership of the National Assembly would certainly be etching their names in gold if they do it now.