The uncertainty created in the nation’s oil and gas sector by the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill is not expected to end anytime soon as the bill has suffered further delay amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PIB, which has been in the works since 2008 when it was first introduced to the legislature, suffered setbacks in the last three legislative tenures.

The bill seeks to change the organisational structure and fiscal terms governing the industry.

An energy law expert and Partner, Bloomfield Law Practice, Mr Ayodele Oni, ruled out the possibility of passing the PIB into law this year.

“I don’t see a lot of movement around the bill. Currently, the country is grappling with many challenges. The interests that have prevented the bill from being passed are yet to be dealt with. There is a need to align all the interests.

“The uncertainty created by the non-passage of the bill means that few investors are interested in investing in the country. Investors are very concerned about certainty.”

According to Agusto & Co., a significant structural change in the sector is hinged on the approval of the PIB, which aims to create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles.

The credit rating agency said the delay in the approval of the bill had brought about uncertainty for potential investors.

“However, given Nigeria’s track record of weak policy implementation and the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activities, Agusto & Co. does not expect the PIGB to be approved before the end of 2020,” it added.

In September 2019, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, expressed the desire of the current National Assembly to pass the PIB before the end of 2020.

“Our petroleum industry is almost stagnant and for long needing profound reform. Our oil and gas-related committees are, therefore, expected to work hard to take the lead in our determination to reform this vital sector. It is the desire, indeed the design of this Senate that, the Petroleum Industry Bill is passed before the end of 2020,” he added.

Lawan had assured Nigerians that the upper chamber would begin work on the PIB in January this year.

 

Source: Punch

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