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The Petroleum Industry Bill, landmark legislation

Article - December 12, 2012
Once approved, the PIB will hail the restructuring of Nigeria's oil and gas industry
The exciting Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is likely to be passed in Nigeria by the National Assembly and subsequently converted into law after its recent approval by the country’s Federal Executive Council.

PIB, one of the most anticipated pieces of legislation in the oil and gas sector, will call for the restructuring of the industry itself while also making it more transparent. It is also expected to promote investment opportunities and employment within the African nation.

“The PIB is a law for the overall benefit of all Nigerians to allow investors to come into the country and invest,” says Rotimi Amaechi,  Governor of Rivers State and staunch supporter of the bill. “This is so because, if we don’t enact a law that would attract investors, then we can’t make progress.”

However, there has been some opposition from the international oil companies (IOCs) already operating in the country such as ExxonMobil that believe the legislation would put too much power in the hands of the federal government. Nigerian officials counter that PIB is as fair for Nigerian people as it is for the IOCs and the government.

Amaechi also expresses confidence that this bill will indeed lay the necessary groundwork for attracting international investors to the developing industry. Investments are currently at somewhat of a standstill as business entities wait anxiously to see the definitive clauses of the PIB, expected to benefit both Nigerians and create a favourable environment for foreign investors.

Furthermore, the legislation is forecasted to curb some of the unemployment which plagues the country. A government agency called the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) is currently working to develop the nation’s workforce in order to prepare them to adequately fill openings in the oil and gas sector, by both sending locals abroad to international universities and improving the colleges within the country for more efficient training.

According to executive secretary of the PTDF, Muttaqha Rabe Darma, the PIB will also allow local companies to compete with the IOCs which now dominate the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

“The PIB is a piece of legislation that is going to change the paradigm in the Nigerian oil and gas industry,” explains Darma, noting that local companies face significant difficulties when competing within the current economic environment. “This piece of legislation is about giving competitive advantages to all participants in the industry.”

Besides this restructuring of the industry, one of the most noteworthy components of the proposed bill is the division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into various entities. This will create a new national oil company, assembled as an independent and registered organisation, which will take over the responsibilities related to the infrastructure of the gas and oil industry.

One of the other organisations created by the bill is a national frontier exploration service, to be focused on actively driving data acquisition, an essential component to the continual advancement of the oil and gas industry within Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed his confidence that PIB will bring much needed professionalism and transformation to the sector.