The Senate’s two-day Petroleum Industry Bill (“PIB”) public hearing session, initially slated for July 16 and July 17, 2013, has been moved to Thursday, July 18 and Friday, July 19, 2013.
The hearings were moved as a result of the Senate’s planned vote on Constitutional amendment and a valedictory session in honor of the late Senator Pius Ewherido both taking place on the 16th and 17th of July respectively.
The Senate’s hearing will now come up exactly one week after the House of Representatives’ final public hearing on the Bill.
Although hearings failed to hold on Wednesday, July 10 as initial stated, the House of Representatives, on the second day of hearings, played host to a cross-section of stakeholders in the oil and gas industry made up of the National Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers Association (NUPENG), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and other interested stakeholders as reported.
Both NUPENG and PENGASSAN, in a joint presentation, submitted that the Bill conferred excessive powers on the Minister and as such encroached on the powers of the Regulators. The Unions’ position was also shared by Malam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai.
Speaking in his capacity as Director of the Centre for Africa’s Progress and Prosperity (“CAPP”), El-Rufai suggested that Joint Ventures be incorporated and quoted on the stock exchange to encourage Nigerian’s participation in the petroleum industry. He also panned the President’s indiscriminate powers to allocate acreages.
The General Manager (Commercial), Shell Exploration and Production Africa, Marc den Hartog, said the company “fully supports the aspirations of government as contained in the PIB.” He however suggested that the PIB clearly define the roles and responsibilities of entities, especially those of the Regulators so as to avoid overlaps and conflicts.
NEITI’s Executive Secretary, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, suggested that the PIB provide for a public register of corporate entities that bid for, operate or invest in petroleum upstream assets, including the identities of their beneficial owners and their levels of ownership. She also urged for provisions that would allow for cash-call payments for Joint Ventures as a first line charge on the Federation Account. “This means that the federal government’s share of the expenses for JV operation would be paid based on agreed work-plan and budgets directly from the Federation Account, prior to other disbursements from the said account,” she said.