Lead discussants of a moderated e-conference titled The PIB and You, have faulted some of the provisions of the revised Petroleum Industry Bill, which was recently submitted to the National Assembly.
In the report of the e-conference, the Executive Director of the Spaces for Youth Development and Social Change, Mrs. Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, who initiated it, said it was aimed at promoting awareness and citizen engagement on the critical provisions of the bill.
Discussing the new bill, the discussion panel including, former President Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee; the President Trade Union Congress, Peter Esele; a petroleum geoscientist, Samuel Diminas; a policy analyst, Opeyemi Agbaje; and a development consultant, Jeremy Weate, highlighted various imperfections in the bills and called for a review.
Mitee said even though the bill seeks to establish a host communities’ fund of 10 per cent of net onshore profits, it was silent on how the fund should be administered.
He said, “In the absence of an effective administrative framework, the potential divisiveness of the host communities’ fund is not in doubt. A very larger proportion of community clashes in the region are linked to funds given to communities by oil companies. A fund focused on massive infrastructure development would be a more productive path.
“In other words, there are better ways to make the communities have a sense of belonging and benefit from such funds for their collective developmental progress. Bonny Island, for example, from where most of Nigeria’s crude oil is exported is not accessible by road. Building a good set of connecting bridges would go a long way in easing transport burden for both locals and industry operators.”
Mittee insisted that recommendations of the 2008 Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, which he led, should be adopted.
The committee recommended that $2 per barrel produced from each community be paid into the community trust fund to be managed by them. And that is to be complemented by the provision of electricity and water from the flow stations to communities within 15km radius.
According to Diminas, the bill that seeks the deregulation of the downstream sector, and retains the Petroleum Equalisation Fund simultaneously was highly ambiguous, contradictory and defeats the core objectives of a deregulated regime.
On the creation of National Oil Company to replace the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Agbaje faulted Section 358 of the bill, which suggests that the new company will inherit the employees of the NNPC.
He said that would amount to mere name change, adding that a lot of political maturity was required to make such an institution work. He noted that the enormous powers of the minister of petroleum resources, prescribed in the bill, could be subject to abuse.
The panel also recommended a stiffer anti-gas flaring regime in Nigeria in line with the practice in other oil producing jurisdictions where gas flaring is a thing of the past.
“The PIB provides for a transitional or gas flaring phasing out plan. Nigeria has lost 1/3 of her GDP or $85 bn through gas flaring in the past 35 years. It is shocking enough that Nigeria flares more gas each year than Germany’s total energy consumption. Therefore, advocating another transition period in ending gas flaring seems to be of great concern to stakeholders, especially environmental activists,” Weate said.