THE Senate has hinted that the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Bill will be assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of the first quarter of 2018.
Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resource (Upstream), Senator Gershom Bassey, gave the hint while speaking at an International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Petroleum Explorationists.
He said the Senate decided to divide the entire bill into four parts in order to ensure its easy passage, noting that the first part, the governance of the oil industry, has been passed by the upper legislative body and presently with the House of Representatives.
Senator Bassey gave the assurance that all the four parts of the Bill would be passed by the Senate and would be ready for presidential assent within the first quarter of next year.
“At the pace which we are going, we should be done in the Senate with all the parts of the PIB hopefully by the first quarter of next year. We also expect that it will not be delayed in the House of Representatives and the Presidency.
“All stakeholders have been involved in bringing the Bill to the stage where it is now. We expect the process to be fast and all-inclusive.
“The first part of the Bill, the PIG Bill, was passed by the Senate several months ago. It is now in the House of Representatives and they have promised to pass it in the next few weeks. We expect it to be on the president’s table by early January.
“The House of Representatives will have to do their work. On the other parts of the PIB, the Senate is going to work together with the House of Representatives so that they pass through the two chambers at the same time to ensure a speedy passage.
“The Host Community Bill, because human beings are involved. But if the industry is not properly governed, then we have no industry. All the four parts are equally important for us to have the proper and desired changes we are looking for in the petroleum industry.
“While we know that the Governance Bill is important, we know that the one that is dearest to the people of the Niger Delta is the Host Community Bill. We also know that the Fiscal Bill is also important, particularly to the oil producers.
“We also know that the Administration Bill is very important to our country. Of course, the Governance Bill is the overarching structure of that industry. “Because we are all working together on all parts of the PIB, we expect that by the first quarter of next year, all these parts would have, at one stage or the other, been on the president’s table”, he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State has challenge operators of the oil industry to evolve a robust roadmap that would address the challenges inherent in deregulation.
The governor said this at the conference, noting that the oil sector should brace up for the challenges thrown up by the introduction of electric cars into the market.
Ambode, who was represented at the event by the state Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Wole Olowu, said Lagos, now as an oil-producing state, has a very ambitious programme for the oil industry.
He said the theme of the conference, “A Roadmap for Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry in a Diversifying Economy”, was very important at this point in time.
He however said the situation was something that should bother all stakeholders, asking, “In the face of vast development, what us our stake?
“We should be more focused as electric cars will come. But the vast lands we have all over the places have not been developed to accommodate the electric cars. Where are we taking the oil industry to in the next 50 years?