Petroleum Minister Alison-Madueke on CNN...Says PIB Will Change Oil Industry in Nigeria

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PIB Will not Victimize IOCs - NNPC GMD
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Engr. Austen Oniwon has reassured the International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria that the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, currently before the National Assembly, is not designed to victimize them but rather to simplify and streamline the process of doing business in the Nigerian oil and gas sector in such a way that all investors would operate on a level playing field.

Engr. Oniwon made this clarification during a meeting with the French Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Jean- Michel Dumond who paid a courtesy call on him at the NNPC Towers, Abuja.

He disclosed that some of the concerns raised by the IOCs about doing business in the country have been reflected in the bill and urged France and other western countries to invest in the downstream, midstream and upstream sub-sectors of the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

Engr. Oniwon noted that the Bill, when passed into law, would transform the NNPC into a commercially driven and profit oriented National Oil Company that would not only cease to be a regulator but focus mainly on operating proficiently without government intervention in its business.

The NNPC helmsman reassured the French Ambassador that the PIB would not put any of the IOCs in a disadvantaged position; rather it would create a win-win situation for all operators.

“The PIB will change the energy business environment in Nigeria for the better. The objective of the bill is to simplify the operations of the business and not to complicate it as is being speculated by some IOCs. There is no effort in that bill to reduce the profitability of business rather NNPC and other IOCs will be operating on a level playing field. I can assure you that the bill will not victimize any IOC,” Engr. Oniwon cofirmed.

He called on the Ambassador to invite Total to invest in the downstream sector of the value chain by building refineries in Nigeria. He also reiterated the Federal Government's commitment to the deregulation of the downstream sector in order to allow market forces to control the prices of petroleum products. “Deregulation has already started as the only product that is still regulated is gasoline and I can assure you that the Federal Government is committed to the policy,” Engr. Oniwon opined.

The NNPC GMD reiterated that the Corporation is solvent and meeting all its financial obligations. He emphasized that crude production has stabilized and that the Corporation regularly meets its OPEC quota of 1.69 million barrels.

Responding, Jean- Michel Dumond commended Nigeria for its quest to promote transparency and accountability through the PIB and expressed the readiness of France to sustain its strategic business partnership with Nigeria, disclosing that France is the second largest investor in the petroleum sector in Nigeria. He applauded the Federal Government for the amnesty programme and said the programme has brought peace and stability to the Niger Delta hence ensuring the security of lives and property of the IOCs in the area.

Nigeria oil and gas industry was the focus of global attention last night on the special CNN Business half Hour- Quest Means Business where the Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke stated that the expected passage of the all important oil industry reform legislation will change the face of the petroleum industry in Nigeria .

Answering a question on the objective of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Minister said that the law is designed to capture and address potential environmental and operational hazards associated with the oil and gas industry.

"I am ensuring that within the next 4-5 weeks, with the major assistance of the National Assembly of Nigeria, we shall in fact be promulgating it into law”, adding that the Petroleum Industry Bill, is an amalgamation of 16 different laws with very stringent guidelines for environmental remediation.

The Minister stated that Nigeria is determined to learn from the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico so as to prevent recurrence of such disaster in the country.

Mrs Alison-Madueke also informed that the PIB will usher in a new vista in the oil industry in the country which will witness increased participation of local communities in the process.

The Minister added that government was working hard to increase local refining capacity by opening up the space for new investors in the downstream sector.