The highly anticipated Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, has passed the second reading at the floor of the Nigerian Senate.
The bill was subsequently referred to the senate committee on petroleum (upstream and downstream) for more legislative work.
Chairman of the senate committee on petroleum (upstream), Tayo Alasoadura, who led debate on the bill, recalled that the PIB was first introduced in 2008, but that it was not passed in previous administrations of the national assembly due to certain hindrances.
He pointed out that the bill aims to make the Nigerian oil and gas sector more efficient, by creating stronger institutions and by promoting transparency in the administration of petroleum resources in the country.
Alasoadura said the bill was part of the efforts being made to reform Nigeria’s petroleum industry, adding that it would take care of most of the ills in the sector.
He said: “This bill provides for the unbundling of the NNPC into two independent entities, which are the National Petroleum Company, NPC, and National Asset Management Company.
“It also provides for the establishment of a single petroleum regulatory commission which will focus mainly on regulating the industry.
“The poor performance of the NNPC is a major concern. The commercialization of the corporation and its splitting into two entities is for more efficiency and to enhance performance.”
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had in November 2015 pledged that the 8th Senate would break the jinx and pass the long-awaited PIB in order to stimulate the country’s economy.
According to Saraki, “attempts in the past to reform the industry through the PIB have not been able to go full circle for variety of reasons.”
“This jinx, he said, would be broken as the senate was already working closely with the executive towards getting the bill passed as soon as possible,” he said.
Earlier in June, when oil workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, threatened to go on strike, they listed failure to pass the PIB as part of the grievances.
Rivers state Chairman of the association, Chika Onuegbu was then quoted as saying: “Since the year 2000, the government has been promising to reform the oil sector, to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, but till date, it has been motion without movement.
“The only thing they succeeded in doing is to allocate oil blocs to cronies and the masses are suffering.”