The Senate, yesterday, in a historic move, passed the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, almost 17 years after the process started. With the passage of the bill, which is tagged, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, a new regulatory agency, known as Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NPRC, would take over the functions of Petroleum Inspectorate, PI, the Department of Petroleum Resources , DPR, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
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The new commission, among other things, will also administer and enforce policies, laws and regulations relating to all aspects of petroleum operations which are assigned to it under the provisions of the Act. With the bill is signed into law, two new companies, Nigeria Petroleum Assets Management Company and National Petroleum Company, would be established with certain assets and liabilities of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, while the National Petroleum Company, for instance, would operate as a full independent commercial entity.
The bill also proposed that when the commission is created, it shall be vested with all assets, funds, resources and other movable and immovable property, which immediately before the commencement of operation of the new commission, were held by the PI, DPR and PPPRA. In the bill, more powers will be vested on the commission, as the President or the Minister of Petroleum Resources, who hitherto had such powers, would no longer have same.
The Senate is expected to pass two more bills to further regulate the oil and gas sector. Already, the Host Communities' Bill, which has passed first reading in the Senate, is expected to be passed into law before the end of 2017. Thereafter, the Senate will also commence moves to pass another tranche of the bill that would deal with the fiscal aspect of the oil and gas sector.
Corrupt practices'll be reduced --Saraki
Saraki said: "The bill will stimulate the oil and gas industry; it will reduce the area of corruption and inefficiency in the oil and gas sector." The bill will now be sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence before being transmitted to the President for assent.
NUPENG, PENGASSAN laud Senate
Reacting to the passage of the bill, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, commended the 8th Senate and its Joint Committee on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, for the passage of PIGB 2016.
NUPENG and PENGASSAN, however, pleaded with the Senate to step up the passage of other aspects of the PIB.
The two unions said: "This is, indeed, a milestone achievement, especially when you consider that the PIGB is not an Executive Bill. "We, therefore, look forward to the concurrent passage of the PIGB into law by the Federal House of Representatives and also eventual accent by the President of Nigeria.
We'll soon pass PIB --Reps
Meanwhile, Deputy spokesman, House of Representatives, Johnathan Gaza Gbewfi, yesterday, said the House will soon follow suit like the Senate in passing the PIB. Gbewfi, who spoke at the House's weekly briefing noted: "You all know that we passed this same bill in the 7th House and I'm assuring you that we've gone very far on the bill and very soon it'll be passed. "To really give the bill its rightful place, we organised an international workshop where we gathered enough input to make the law have international standard that it deserves."
Source: All Africa