Over 15 months after President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to the harmonised Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva, has given a glimmer of hope that the revised law may be passed by June 2020.
You will recall that last year President Buhari refused to append his signature to the harmonized PIGB presented by the National Assembly on June 8, 2018, for assent into law.
The draft law was meant to update the outdated Petroleum Act and replace its provisions with a more comprehensive and current legal framework that aligned with global standards.
The harmonized draft had earlier been approved by the House of Representatives in January that year.
The presidential aide on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, cited constitutional and legal reasons for the president’s decision not to sign the bill into law.
But, addressing State House Correspondents in Abuja last week at the end of the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (FEC), Mr Sylva said work on the revised PIGB was progressing well and the new law may be passed in the second quarter of next year.
“Today, we reported (to Council) that work is ongoing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and that hopefully it will be passed into law by June next year,” the minister told reporters at the end of the meeting.
The minister also said considerable progress has been recorded by achieving at least one of the nine ‘mandate areas’ of his ministry.
He identified the mandate area already achieved as the passage of the deep offshore amendment Act meant to significantly increase Nigeria’s share of earnings from oil wells located offshore the country.
On other aspects of his presentation to the council, Mr Sylva said he also reported that next year his ministry will open up the gas sector for business.
“Next year, a lot will happen in the gas sector in Nigeria. Rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence in January, and hopefully, 2020 will be a very busy year for the oil industry in Nigeria,” he said.