We attended the public hearing of the Senate on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which was held over three days in Abuja last week. We shall share an update on the proceedings in a later post. An important highlight is that the FG & the Senate now appear aligned on the institutional reform proposals in the PIGB.
However, an unresolved matter is the role to be played by the Minister in the sector post -reform. Under the current draft of the PIGB, the Minister is limited to the policy function and he/she does not sit on the board of the Regulator. At the PIGB public hearing on Friday, the Minister of State’s presentation included a request that the Minister of Petroleum is empowered to Chair the board of the regulator and to have the powers to issue regulations. This contrasts with the broad goals outlined in the Senate-initiated Bill – to avoid conflicts of interests in government roles in the industry & to guarantee regulatory independence from politics. For a copy of the Minister’s address to the Senate see this link.
After the public hearings, the Senate Committee will review the recommendations made by the various participants and make the necessary amendments to the PIGB, before it is scheduled for a third reading. The Senate President has already indicated that he expects the Bill to be passed in January. Given the end of year holidays, we think that the end of the first quarter of 2017 is a more realistic target.