David-mark04032011The Senate has reiterated its commitment to the Petroleum Industry Bill, which has been caught up in the web of ethnic and socio-political controversies in the past eight years.

The President of the Senate, David Mark, while opening the Oil Trading and Logistics Africa Downstream Expo in Lagos on Tuesday, said the lawmakers’ commitment to the bill was unalloyed; adding that the delay experienced so far in the Senate was caused by events beyond the controls of the members.

In recognition of the importance of the bill to the survival of the country’s oil and gas industry and its implications for the economy, the Senate president said a timetable would be set for the bill at the committee level up to its eventual passage.

Mark, who was represented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, said, “Our commitment to the passage of the PIB is unshakeable. While in the Senate we have experienced delay with dealing with the bill, it has been because of events outside the control of the lawmakers.

“We have now resorted to setting a timetable for dealing with the bill at the committee level. We are also using this opportunity to invite more stakeholders who have one or more contributions to make to the bill.”

Speaking on the theme of the expo, ‘Competitiveness in the downstream oil sub sector,’ the Senate president said it was important for stakeholders to be concerned about increasing the capacity of Nigerian companies to compete internationally.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Mr. Dakuku Peterside, said the House was also committed to the passage of the PIB because of its importance to the country’s economy.

Rather than being traders, he urged downstream operators in the country to add value to the sector by refining Nigeria’s crude oil into refined products.

According to him, Singapore does not have a drop of oil but now exports, while Nigeria has become a net importer of refined petroleum products.

He said there was no way the downstream operators could discuss competitiveness without focusing on upping in-country refining capacity.

Tambuwal said the PIB was progressing as planned, recalling that the House of Representatives had organised public hearings in the six geo political zones of the country.

He gave an assurance that the bill would be passed before the end of 2015.

This tallies with the expectations in certain quarters that the bill will be passed before the end of this year.

This, experts further said, confirmed the view of many critics of the National Assembly’s handling of the PIB.

A senior official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the PIB might never be passed because of the political and ethnic controversies it had been enmeshed in.


Information from Punch was used in this report.