Senate to pass Petroleum Industry Bill in tranches – Saraki

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, says Senate will pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, in tranches as a way out of its non-passage for the past eight years.

Mr. Saraki made this known at a three-day Public Hearing on the PIGB organised by the Senate joint Committee on the bill on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the passage of the bill in tranches was necessitated by the need to unbundle its contents into manageable compartments that could be implemented in phases.

Mr. Saraki noted that the Senate was set to pass the first tranche of the bill, while putting measures in place for the passage of other tranches.

He added that the passage of the first tranche would further tackle persistent problems associated with fiscal framework and host communities.

“This public hearing is another avenue for us to hear from the operators, regulators, experts and other stakeholders in the industry on how to move the industry forward.

“We want to move away from the way things were done in the past during the consideration of such bills, especially fiscal framework and host communities.

“We will push for greater partnership so that the bill will be a win-win for everyone; one that works for government, attractive to oil companies and takes into consideration concerns of the host communities.

“We will also tackle the issues of downstream, gas and environment. We are poised and resolved to deal with all issues related to the industry, albeit in tranches.

“As a nation we cannot afford any further delay in our effort to reform our oil and gas industry.

“The journey begins now and I assure you that we will guarantee that all of these bills are passed in record time,” he said.

Mr. Saraki expressed concern that though the petroleum industry contributed over 90 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, existing legal, regulatory and institutional structures in the industry were out-dated.

He noted that the sector had performed below expectations, adding that the development had led to the Federal Government and investors losing significant edge in the oil and gas investment trends.

According to him, it is unacceptable that till date, Nigeria still imports over 90 per cent of needed petroleum products, flares substantial gas produced, damages the eco-system and pollutes host communities.

The senate president added that in spite of Nigeria’s might in the sector, it could not supply adequate electricity to individual homes and industries.

“This situation has undermined our citizen’s standard of living, life expectancy, national energy security.

“It has therefore resulted in other unforeseen fallouts like labour unrest, fuel queues, high cost of delivery of products and unquantifiable wastage of national productivity.

“The oil and gas industry is yearning for good governance, competitiveness, transparency, indigenous participation and accountability,” Mr. Saraki said.

He assured that the bill would be passed in record time.

The Chairman of the joint committee, Omotayo Alasoadura, said if Nigeria must get out of the present recession, the petroleum industry must be made efficient and more profit-oriented.

He said it was therefore expedient to pass the bill to reposition the industry.

Mr. Alasoadura said: “It is in this spirit that we are beginning today the journey of consultation with stakeholders in the match towards passing the bill.”

The public hearing ends on Friday.