The minister of State for Petroleum, Timpre Sylva yesterday decried the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) since 2007, a development he said has caused a humongous set back in the required regulation of the oil industry. According to him, the situation has particularly discouraged investments in the sector, resulting in the stagnation of the nation’s oil reserves which stand at 37.5billion barrels presently.
The Minister stated this yesterday at a public hearing session organised by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Finance, Gas and Judiciary on Deep Offshore and Inland Basing Sharing Contract (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Giving the history of oil reserve growth, Sylva said while the oil reserves increased from 22billion barrels in 1999 to 37billion barrels in 2007 which is 68.2% in 8 years;, only 500million barrels or 1.3% were added to it in 12 years between 2007 and 2019 due to lack of additional investments arising from non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
He said: “Perhaps as a result of some level of regulations , from 1999 to 2007, we grew our oil reserves from 22billion barrels to 37billion barrels which however got stagnated between then and now ( 2019) with 37.5billion barrels , meaning that for 12 years , only 500million barrels were added to the reserves .
“The reason for this is very obvious, lack of required regulatory laws for the sector which has been driving away investors,” he said.He however commended the Senate for setting machinery in motion towards considering the Petroleum Industry Bill ( PIB) very soon in growing the sector .
“ The Public Hearing being held today on Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract ( Amendment ) Bill 2019 by the relevant Senate Committees , will no doubt serve as precursor for consideration and passage of PIB in no distant time,’’he added .
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in his opening remarks at the session , vowed that the Petroleum Industry Bill will be passed by the 9th National Assembly next year.
According to him, the bill which seems jinxed since 2007, when it was first introduced during the 6th National Assembly to the 8th National Assembly, passed but not assented to by the President, will see the light of the day during the current Assembly .
“ Collaborative approach between the executive and the legislature is being considered in getting the PIB passed and assented to, this time around because the bill is highly needed to attract investors into the sector and widen our oil reserve base “, he said .
Earlier in his opening remarks, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum ( Upstream) , Senator Albert Bassey Akpan ( PDP Akwa Ibom North East), said the need to put in place required legislations on Production Sharing Contracts ( PSC) necessitated the motion that gave birth to the bill for a win – win arrangement for all stakeholders.