Petroleum industry bill: Let’s get on with it

ATTENDING the offshore technology conference in Houston a couple of weeks ago, I made it a point of duty to participate in all sessions that had anything to do with Nigeria. The experiences were worth every single moment, and besides the truly great liaisons I made, one of the highlights of the trip was the exposition on the petroleum industry bill. Funny it had to take going all the way to Houston to achieve that! Petroleum Minister, Rilwan Lukman I was particularly impressed by the presence of key members of the oil and gas implementation committee at various OTC fora, including the president’s special adviser on petroleum, Hon. Emmanuel Egbogah. 
The added presence of the members of the National Assembly was extra spice as seen from the immediate news bites following the conference. One of the fundamental points I want to make on the issue of the Petroleum Industry Bill is that we should get on with it and let it see the light of day. It obviously has to go through the crucible of due process, including the legislative public hearings, but that is precisely what I think needs to be done now, and speedily too. 

This is not time for politics, even though that will ultimately not be divorced from the final decision-making. Happily, there was adequate diverse representation at the Nigeria-focused events at OTC to qualify for a public hearing of sorts, albeit outside the shores of Nigeria, with the presence of House of Representatives and Senate members of the National Assembly Petroleum Committees, chief executives and top management officials of virtually all the international oil companies (IOC’s), controllers and heavyweights of the ‘local oil companies’ (apologies Wale Tinubu of Oando!), petroleum technology and support service providers (flagbearers of ‘Nigerian content’), leaders of thought from the Niger Delta, professional services (yours sincerely), the press (all the serious minded ones), and of course, government at the highest level, represented by no less a person than Dr. Egbogah. 

I could elicit from the turbo-charged deliberations that everyone is fundamentally interested in moving the oil and gas industry forward, particularly from the accepted wisdom that the status quo is inefficient, wasteful, and to some (or a good) measure, skewed to short-change national sovereignty and wealth. What then are the issues? Thanks to the long-suffering of

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