Nigeria may finally approve new Oil bill after 2 decades of work

Nigeria oil industry concept, industrial illustration. Nigeria

Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, Nigeria, is expected to pass its new petroleum bill—twenty years in the making—as early as Wednesday, despite last-minute amendments that have created some controversy.

The country’s petroleum industry bill was submitted at the Senate at the end of last month.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has been two decades in the making to overhaul the way Nigeria will share its oil resources with international oil companies and aim to attract new investment in oil and gas.

Community leaders in Nigeria’s oil-rich regions want changes to the latest version of the bill, asking for a larger share of revenues for the community.

According to an analysis by Reuters, the lawmakers in Nigeria could give their final approval to the bill as early as on Wednesday, although some debate had arisen due to provisions the Senate has added in recent days.

One of them includes giving refiners licenses to import crude linked to the refining capacity. This could basically give Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote a near-monopoly in fuel import licenses because the refinery his Dangote Group is currently building will have a massive capacity of 650,000 barrels per day (bpd).

“It hinders the country’s financial and economic progress because it transfers a huge chunk of public wealth to favoured businessmen,” the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria said.

The other debatable last-minute provision in the new petroleum bill concerns exploration in northern Nigeria. The bill is creating a fund to back so-called ‘frontier’ exploration for oil in the northern part of the country. Community leaders in the south, however, think that the financial parameters for exploration in the north are high. According to the Pan Niger Delta Forum, the northern oil exploration fund levels are “provocative” and “wasteful,” Reuters notes.

Still, despite the last-minute debates, the passing of the new petroleum bill shouldn’t be delayed too much, analysts told Reuters.

Charles Kennedy

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