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Kaduna Refinery
Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday signed the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Bill into law.

The bill, which was also informally known as the Local Content Bill, was signed alongside the 2010 Appropriation Bill at a ceremony in the Council Chambers of the State House.

Speaking at the event, Jonathan explained that the new law would promote local participation in the oil and gas industry.

He said, 'This bill seeks to address the compelling need for us as a nation to have indigenous participation in the industry.

'Hence, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Bill 2010 shall apply to all matters pertaining to Nigerian content in respect of all operations or transactions carried out in or connected with the Nigerian oil and gas industry.'

As a result, 'all regulatory authorities, operators, contractors, sub-contractors, alliance partners and other entities involved in any project, operation, activity or transaction in the Nigerian oil and gas industry shall consider Nigerian content as an important element of their overall project development and management philosophy for project execution,' Jonathan added.

Henceforth, according to the Acting President, 'There shall be exclusive consideration for Nigerian indigenous service companies, which demonstrate ownership of equipment, Nigerian personnel and capacity to execute jobs in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.'

The Act provides for the development of the Nigerian content in the oil and gas industry through the content plan, supervision, coordination, monitoring and implementation of Nigerian content and for related matters.'

The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, established in accordance with the provision in the Act, is expected to develop procedure that will guide, monitor, coordinate and implement the provisions of the Act to ensure a measurable and continuous growth of Nigerian content in all oil and gas arrangements, projects, operations, activities and transactions in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

Noting that some additional work was needed on the Act, Jonathan said, 'I must note that the content of the law may not be perfect, but we are surely on the road to greater security through ownership and participation as well as industrial technology development.'

Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, Senator Lee Maeba, the sponsor of the Local Content Bill, expressed confidence in the Act's ability to transform the fortunes of local operators in the country's oil and gas industry.

Explaining what prompted him to sponsor the bill, Maeba said, 'The journey started since 2005, I saw that there is no law guiding the activities of Nigerian companies in the oil and gas industry and because of that, there has been a capital drift with all types of companies all over the world coming to Nigeria to do jobs that Nigerian companies have adequate capacity to do and that is the reason why there is poverty in Nigeria in spite of the fact that we are the sixth largest producer of crude oil.

'With this inspiration, I moved this bill and I also travelled around the world to compare content development in the oil and gas industries around the world and it was ready in 2007, but we couldn't pass it because of some factors that I could not control.

'But luckily, I was elected back into the Senate in 2007 and I started all over again and the National Assembly appreciated the fact that there must be a way, which is meant for Nigerians and the one meant for the expatriates so that we can stimulate the economy and so, today, the bill has been signed by the Acting President into law.'

'So I am very very happy.
'It touches on the whole aspect of the industry, apart from the fact that every multinational company must domicile a minimum of 10 per cent of their annual profit in Nigerian banks and that means that the Nigerian banks will have more money to fund investment in the country.

'All aspects of insurance in the oil and gas industry must be done by Nigerian insurance companies unless where in the opinion of the Nigerian insurance commission, the capacity of the Nigerian company has been exhausted.

'All issue of legal services must be done by Nigerian companies. Every company doing a project in a community must establish in that community.

'This will ensure that a project office is in that community so that the people in that community would not have to travel to Abuja to look for contracts for projects within their community and that is community development.

'That alone will stem and quell much of the problem in the Niger Delta'.