A bill for an Act to create the National Frontiers Basins Exploration Agency, yesterday scaled second reading in the Senate.
The bill sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi, (Kogi West), received unanimous support as senators described the Bill as long over due.
The lawmakers believe that the agency, when created, would create an avenue for opening up new oil frontiers across the country and increase its oil-based revenue.
Adeyemi, in his lead debate, said the essence of the bill was to establish the National Frontiers Basins Exploration Agency to execute, promote and oversee exploration activities in the inland sedimentary basins and for other related matters.
He said it was imperative to continue to search for more oil and gas to add to the national reserves, especially since petroleum is the mainstay of the country’s economy.
He said Nigerians know that petroleum accounts for about 90 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
He said: “The bill has, as part of its objective, the promotion of efficient, sustainable exploration of hydrocarbons in the frontiers basins of Nigeria.
“The evaluation of all unassigned concessions in Nigeria and to undertake activities that will stimulate exploration interest of local and international oil companies towards increasing the country’s oil and gas reserves.
“Some have entertained fear that Nigeria has to avert the financial challenges that may arise for its economy, as more and more wells in the Niger Delta begin to record a consistent decline in outputs.”
Adeyemi who said the idea was to look beyond the Niger Delta Basin, assured that the venture will give equal opportunity for all parts of the country to contribute to the national coffers through the instrument of oil revenue.
In his contribution, Senator Barnabas Gemade, said it will be wise to pass the bill so that an agency would be made responsible for the handling of funds meant for oil exploration in the frontier basins.
Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said perhaps the country had not been zealous enough in its exploration of oil in the contiguous geological basin.
He said: “We need to legislate an agency that will force the hands of the operators of the oil sector to explore for oil in the frontier basins.”
Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (Ekiti North) who also supported the bill said, the bill has helped to call attention to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which had remained pending.
He said, the issue of frontier exploration is a component of the mother PIB. “We are giving attention to this bill. We should extend the same action to PIB by getting the government committed to hasten all the process to fast-track its passage into law.”