State governors have turned down moves by the International Oil Companies to prevail on them to influence the National Assembly not to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Our correspondents gathered on Sunday that the IOCs had stepped up pressure on the governors to reach out to the National Assembly on the need not to pass the draft PIB.
A governor, who spoke in confidence with one of our correspondents, said, “In the past few months, the IOCs have reached out to us (governors). They want us to assist in killing the PIB by getting across to the National Assembly.
“We are not listening to them because it is not in the interest of Nigerians. As leaders, it is in our interest to access more funds from the Federation Account to meet our developmental obligations; we want more money from the Federation Account. The PIB’s fiscal regime will improve our monthly allocations and we are not supporting them (the IOCs).”
Our correspondents also gathered that the IOCs had made moves to ensure that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, was removed by President Goodluck Jonathan in his anticipated cabinet reshuffle.
It was gathered that the companies hinged their positions on the raging issue of oil theft, which the Federal Government said it was concerned about.
It was, however, learnt that the President had ignored the call by the oil majors for Alison-Madueke’s removal on the grounds that oil theft was a security issue.
A Presidency source said, “The President is not buying the idea that the minister should be dropped because of oil theft. This is a security issue. Besides, facilities are aging and they were built above ground, thus they can easily be accessed by criminals.
“This government, as part of efforts to fight oil theft, has reached out to other countries. Security agencies are also being empowered to fight the crime.”
It was also gathered that the government had started addressing Shell’s recent divestment from the shallow waters of the Niger Delta.
The Presidency source, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said, “There are some divestments, but other firms are coming in to pick up these assets.
“Also, these assets are being taken over by indigenous firms, thus creating huge employment opportunities for Nigerians. These local firms are competing with international companies.”
The current fiscal regime, which the PIB seeks to abolish, leaves the country at the mercy of the oil companies, according to analysts.
The PIB, the analysts said, would make Nigeria less of the cash cow for the IOCs, especially in the area of gas, with the country’s gas reserves about three times its crude oil reserves.
Sources stated that the same multinational oil firms that were moving against the PIB had failed to adopt measures to take proactive measures like the deployment of immediate metering and use of technology because the system in use benefitted them to the detriment of Nigerians.
When contacted, the a spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr. Tony Okonedo, said he was not aware of the alleged lobby of the governors and the Presidency by the IOCs.
He said the position of the IOCs as encapsulated by the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was clear that the PIB as currently drafted would prevent investments in the nation’s oil industry.
Information from Punch was used in this report.