By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timpre Sylva, yesterday said the continued stalemate in the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) since 2007 for required regulation of the oil Industry has crippled investments in the oil sector, holding national oil reserves at 37.5billion barrels.
The Minister who stated this Monday at a public hearing session organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Finance, Gas and Judiciary on Deep Offshore and Inland Basing Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2019, said while the oil reserves increased from 22billion barrels in 1999 to 37billion barrels in 2007, only 500million barrels were added to it between 2007 and 2019 due to lack of additional investments arising from none passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“Perhaps as a result of some level of regulations , from 1999 to 2007, we grew our oil reserves from 22billion barrels to 37billion barrels which however got stagnated between then and now ( 2019) with 37.5billion barrels , meaning that for 12 years , only 500million barrels were added to the reserves .
“ The reason for this is very obvious , lack of required regulatory laws for the sector which has been driving away investors “ , he said .
He however commended the Senate for setting machinery in motion towards considering the Petroleum Industry Bill ( PIB) very soon in growing the sector .
“ The Public Hearing being held today on Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract ( Amendment ) Bill 2019 by the relevant Senate Committees , will no doubt serve as precursor for consideration and passage of PIB in no distant time “, he added .
This is as the President of the Senate , Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in his opening remarks at the session , vowed that the Petroleum Industry Bill will be passed by the 9th National Assembly next year .
According to him, the bill which seems jinxed since 2007 when it was first introduced during the 6th National Assembly to the 8th National Assembly when it was passed but not assented to, by the President ; will see the light of the day during the current Assembly .
“Collaborative approach between the executive and the legislature is being considered in getting the PIB passed and assented to, this time around because the bill is highly needed to attract investors into the sector and widen our oil reserve base “, he said .
On the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Bill, Lawan said the bill is a done deal , being a required precursor for the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum ( Upstream) , Senator Albert Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North East), said the need to put in place required legislations on Production Sharing Contracts ( PSC) necessitated the motion that gave birth to the bill for a win – win arrangement for all stakeholders .
Aside the Minister of State for Petroleum , all the critical stakeholders in the oil and gas sectors from the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) , Kele Kyari to all the Managing Directors of oil firms , were at the public hearing which later held being closed door.
It would be recalled that the Senate had penultimate Wednesday, uncovered a whooping lost of N7trillion ( $21billion) to international oil firms within the last 26 years on none implementation of Oil Production Sharing Contract ( PSC) , it had with the affected oil firms since January 1993 .
The loss of the country in the sharing contract with frontline oil firms like Chevron , Exxon Mobil, Shell , South Atlantic Petroleum etc, came into fore during debate on a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah ( YPP Anambra South ) .
Senator Ubah in the motion co – sponsored by 27 other Senators , informed the Senate that salient provisions of the contractual agreements between Nigeria and the affected oil firms , have not been adhered to , by parties concerned which according to him, had bled the nation’s economy to the tune of $21billion , equivalent of N7trillion.
The N7trillion loss according to him, were revenues that supposed to have accrued into the federation account from shares Nigeria supposed to have gotten from the oil firms anytime oil price rises above $20 per barrel as provided for in section 16 of the Production Sharing Contract Oil .
He added that the required periodic reviews that are supposed to be done on the Act in 2008, 2013 and 2018 as provided for in the Act , were not carried out with attendant further loses on the part of Nigerian government .
Consequently , an amendment bill seeking for penalties against the fraud , was tabled and passed for first reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday last week.
Passing the bill titled : “ Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract ( Amendment) Bill 2019 “ for second reading Tuesday, the Senate introduced sections 17 and 18 into it for appropriate penalties against violation of section 16 of the Act .