The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has given an assurance that the House would do all it could to pass the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) before the end of June.
According to him, the PIGB is on the front burner of the House and members of the Green Chamber will commence the process of its passage soon.
Gbajabiamila stated this on Wednesday in Abuja at a meeting with a delegation of the Experts Advisory Panel of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter.
Nothing that the House needed the support and partnership of such group, he stressed that although the PIGB has been in the National Assembly for years, the 9th Assembly was committed to putting it to rest.
“PIGB is on the front burner. We intend to start the process soon. We’re hoping that by June, we’ll be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” the speaker said.
He added, “Oil and gas is an integral part of our economy. It remains the mainstay of our economy, and so we have to work together to protect it.”
“It requires us to work with those who understand the nuances of that sector. For the oil and gas industry to develop, there has to be a symbiotic relationship. You have the knowledge and we have the capacity to make it happen.”
Gbajabiamila told his guests that the House would use the zeal and patriotism with which it passed the Deep Offshore Sharing Agreement Law to pass the PIGB.
He said, “We have to put Nigeria first and that’s what we did with that bill (Deep Offshore), and that’s what we’ll do with the PIGB.
“On the side of Nigeria and on the side of the National Assembly, that’s where we’re going to.”
The leader of the delegation and former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, said the visit was to seek the understanding and cooperation of the speaker to pass some bills that could boost Nigeria’s economy, one of which was the PIGB.
He explained that the panel’s main concern was the implementation of the natural resource charter for the nation’s oil and gas sector to benefit the citizens.
Ajumogobia noted that part of their concern was focusing on providing capacity to support the legislature in determining the best way in terms of legislation that would move the oil and gas sector forward.
The Senate on Wednesday resolved to investigate the actions of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company in ensuring participation of indigenous companies in the freight of petroleum products, in line with the provisions of Presidential Executive Order 5(2018).
This was predicated upon a call by Senator Ramoni Olalekan Mustapha seeking an investigation into the breach of Nigerian laws by foreign vessels in coastal shipping of petroleum products in the downstream sector of the Nigerian Maritime University.
Senator Olalekan Mustapaha (APC, Ogun East), noted that the National Content (NOGICD) Act 2010 was enacted to promote value addition to the National Economy by stimulating growth and industrial development in the Oil and Gas Sector of the Economy.
According to the lawmaker, “The influx of foreign vessels into the Nigerian downstream sector is alarming against the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 which clearly restricts vessels engaged in domestic coastal trade.”
He added, “Only wholly-owned, manned and registered Nigerian vessels can engage in the domestic coastal carriage of Petroleum products within the Territorial and Inland Waterways.”
Senator Mustapha said that over the last fifteen years, indigenous tonnage capacity and coastal shipping capabilities have grown exponentially with Nigerian operators owning multiple tanker vessels in their fleet.
The lawmaker stated that though NNPC is the largest employer of downstream shipping services in Africa, the corporation’s activities in terms of opportunities and indigenous capacities have not been enhanced.
He stated that the Capital freight spent by NNPC through Direct Sale of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Product (DSDP) is approximately USD$60 million monthly to about USD$720 million annually.
“The value of DSDP for 2019/2020 contract period is at the range of USD$9 billion, out of which foreign ship-owners amount for one hundred percent of freight associated with this downstream activity, most of which is repatriated overseas to the detriment of the Nigerian economy”, Senator Mustapha lamented.
The lawmaker added that the lack of Contract of Carriage and the absence of guaranteed cargo tonnage in the Maritime Industry have led to significant loses and collapsed of domestic and indigenous shipping.
Consequently, the Senate, in its resolutions, mandated the Committees on Local Content & Compliance to investigate the reasons for the dominance of foreign vessels above locally owned, manned and registered vessels in the domestic carriage of petroleum products within the coastal territory and inland waterways of Nigeria.
The Upper Chamber further resolved to investigate foreign ship owners of freight associated with downstream activities repatriated overseas by NNPC to the detriment of the local economy or patronage.
Also to be investigated is the flagrant abuse of the NOGICD Act 2010 and Cabotage Act 2003 respectively, by the operators and stakeholders in the Maritime Industry, through a ship-ship transfer with the coastal foreign vessel.
In its motion on Wednesday, the Senate mandated the Committees on Local Content and Petroleum Downstream to carry out an investigation with a view to unraveling the influx of foreign vessels in the coastal region and the level of patronage of Nigerian shipping companies.
Meanwhile, members of the Senate on Wednesday considered a motion on the ‘escalating rate’ of unemployment in the country.
Italian oil major, Eni, said on Wednesday that its Nigerian subsidiary Agip has found lots of gas and oil in an onshore facility in the Niger Delta.
Eni operated Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) made the discovery in the Obiafu-Obrikom fields.
It said the Obiafu-41 deep well had reached a total depth of 4.374 m, encountering an important gas and condensate accumulation within the deltaic sequence of Oligocene age comprising more than 130m of high-quality hydrocarbon-bearing sands.
The official spokesperson of the APC Presidential Campaign, Festus Keyamo, SAN, has urged Nigerians to ignore claims by Senate President Bukola Saraki regarding an alleged fraud within the Oil and Gas sector.
Keyamo in a statement on Friday said the Director General (DG) of the PDP Presidential Campaign has resorted to a baseless campaign of calumny directed at the person of Mr. President, “Ahead of the looming defeat of the PDP at the Presidential polls next month”.
He said, “Dr. Bukola Saraki’s resort to poorly choreographed and worn-out political brinksmanship is fueled by the obvious absence of any credible agenda or bearing to present to Nigerians in their campaigns.
“In clear demonstration of hallucination with figures, Dr. Bukola Saraki claimed, in an interview with Channels Television a few days ago, that Nigeria’s petrol consumption is about 20-22 million Iitres per day and that the current import level of about 50million litres is a scam and fraudulent.
“However, the same Dr. Bukola Saraki was in the 7th Senate and knows very well that in 2014 and part of 2015, the PDP Government that was in power was reporting to Nigerians daily PMS consumption of 35-40 million litres per day. (In January, 2014 for example, the average monthly consumption was 38 million Iitres per day. By January, 2015 under the same government of PDP, they reported 36 milIion Iitres per day and March 2015, the daily consumption reported by PDP government was 45 million Iitres per day, whilst importing at levels above 80million litres per day).
“Strangely, years later, the PDP Campaign DG is peddling a phantom fuel consumption figure of 20-22 million litres per day.
“The PDP Chief Campaigner discountenanced the obvious fact that within the last three years of the current administration, the Nigerian economy that PDP left in comatose has been jump-started to vibrancy leading to remarkable changes in energy consumption needs and patterns.
“The allegation that the national oil company prevailed on Mr. President not to seek appropriation for subsidy and to rather treat it as cost under-recovery is not only laughable and mischievous, but it is a blatant lie.
“Verifiable records indicate that NNPC has never claimed subsidy payment from any government in its history of operation. All NNPC’s transactions in this regard have been treated as product costs under-recovery.
“The Corporation, like any other business entity, does its business and recovers its cost from its revenues.
“It is instructive to note that in his rush to indict the NNPC and the President, willy-nilly, Dr. Bukola Saraki forgot that a Senate Committee was set up by him to investigate the intervention of NNPC in PMS imports.
“The mandate of the Committee includes volumes, costs, and any associated under-recoveries. The big question remains; why would he not wait for the outcome of the Committee he set up to investigate the matter? Is it because he believes the outcome of his Committee will not satisfy his predetermined mindset?
Keyamo there urged Nigerians to ignore the tantrums of Dr. Bukola Saraki as it concerns the oil and gas sector.
“Massive Fraud In The Oil Sector”
Senate President Bukola Saraki in an earlier interview with Channels Television alleged that there is massive fraud within the oil sector.
The lawmaker said applying subsidy on assumption that Nigeria consumes fifty million litres (50million litres) of fuel a day, is fraudulent.
Saraki said in the Jonathan administration subsidy was based on an assumption that the nation consumes 30million litres of fuel daily.
He added that he and some other lawmakers warned that the Jonathan government was condoning corruption “by over importing fuel and because of that we were losing a lot of money”.
The Senate President said the present government instead of changing the process, jerked up the importation by 20 million litres extra.
He said, “you would have thought that a government that was to fight corruption and prevent leakages would even if you are going to continue subsidy, ensure that it is better managed.”
Saraki said there is no way Nigerians can consume 50million litres a day, “it is just money being stolen,” he alleged.
Buhari’s Government Is Corrupt
Saraki says President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has lost its moral ground in the fight against corruption because of corrupt practices within the administration.
The Senate President in an exclusive interview with Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye said the Buhari-led government came in on a promise to oust corruption but have rather allowed a new set of corrupt officials to thrive.
Saraki said there is no way the present government can be speaking of integrity when it has “a member who has been found wanting, left without charge or prosecution”.
He said, in 2015 the Jonathan administration was ousted on three major promises which are: security, economic growth and the fight against corruption.
The lawmaker, however, opined that “Nigerians are not better off today than they were in 2015”.
The Senate Committee on Local Content says it is determined to clamp down on oil and gas companies who refuse to remit funds to the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.
The Senate Committee Chairman, Solomon Adeola, gave the warning on Saturday after a visit to three oil companies in Rivers State.
The committee members expressed satisfaction that majority of the staff in the companies are Nigerians, in fulfilment of the local content law.
They were, however, disappointed that the companies which have been operating in Nigeria for years are still almost totally foreign owned.
The lawmakers also expressed displeasure that none of the companies was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Going forward, the committee said the National Assembly will review the Local Content Law, expanding its scope to cover other industries such as telecomms, ICT, manufacturing and the extractive industries.
It also stated that the board has commissioned auditors to look into the accounts of oil and gas companies and fish out those defaulting in their payments.
The Senate has resolved to investigate the ongoing oil and gas lease renewal being undertaken by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The lawmakers took the decision on Wednesday following a motion sponsored by Senator Omotayo Alasoadura at plenary in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.
Senator Alasoadura accused the minister and the DPR of perpetuating irregularities capable of denying the government revenue in excess of $10billion, as a result of alleged illegal discounts and rebates in the process of lease renewal.
Senator Shehu Sani, on his part, said the issue of lease renewal had been a major discourse in the last one week.
He was hopeful that a thorough investigation into the issue would open “a whole can of worms” on the matter.
“There have been series of motions related to this issue and I think further investigation is required,” Senator Sani said.
On his part, Senator Umaru Kurfi said, “We cannot be seen folding our arms on this issue. We have to take deliberate steps to end these discrepancies and call in the Minister of State for Petroleum for further investigation.”
Senator Gbolahan Dada also suggested that the Senate invites Dr Kachikwu, as the matter that needed to be addressed was “lack of enforcement”.
But Senator Rafiu Ibrahim believes the minister cannot approve issues such as this and asked the lawmakers to expand the list of those to be called in for investigation.
The Senate consequently resolved to mandate the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to investigate the issue and report back to the chamber.
The committee was also directed to identify measures to correct the purported anomalies in the lease renewal.
The Foreign Commercial Service of the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, in collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Nigeria and its leading local partner, Manifold Computers, have introduced an innovative technology Synergy and Aruba for use in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Synergy and Aruba according to the U.S. helps companies operating in the Nigerian oil and gas industry to increase efficiency of operations, monitor people, manage resources, make real-time decisions, reduce risks, save costs, and increase flexibility, productivity and company bottom line.
Speaking during a public presentation of the technology product at an event in Lagos last week, United States Consul General F. John Bray renewed the U.S. government’s commitment to supporting trade and investment in Nigeria. He encouraged Nigerian oil and gas industry players to avail themselves of the innovative technology with a view to harnessing Nigeria’s abundant resources, improving their bottom-line and ultimately growing the economy.
“Nigeria presents tremendous long-term growth opportunities and the United States government remains committed to supporting American companies and local partners in deploying U.S. technology to help tackle some of the challenges the country is facing,” Consul General F. John Bray said at the event attended by leading oil and gas industry players, technology service providers, and senior government officials.
Acting Commercial Counselor of the U.S. Mission, Mr Paul Bergman, highlighted Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s long term partnership with the American Commercial Service.
According to him, the U.S. Commercial Service will continue to be at the fore-front of promoting trade and investment between America and Nigeria through the development and execution of mutually beneficial international trade policies and promotion strategies.
Managing Director, HPE Nigeria, Mr Chukwuma Okpaka, noted that the high performance computing technology solution meets the modern exigencies of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. Modeling and simulation applications, he added, will accelerate breakthroughs in oil and gas, science, medicine, technology, and energy sectors.
Julius Berger has formed a partnership with Petralon Energy to work on oil fields in the Niger Delta region and is currently in talks with about eight power-industry investors to build generating plants in the country.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government may soon achieve its objective of boosting Nigeria’s local refining capacity as an Indonesian firm has revealed plans to construct a modular refinery in the country.
The refinery will be located in Akwa Ibom State and on completion is expected to churn out 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Bayelsa State Government has expressed concern and displeasure with oil firms for flouting court orders on oil spill cases in the state.
The government decried the alleged ‘blatant disregard for court rulings’ and called on oil firms operating in the state to embrace the rule of law.
The appeal was made by the Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Oil and Gas, Mr Felix Ayah, in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
“Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has reneged its corporate social responsibilities to maintain peace in its operations, negating the state government’s effort to strengthen the existing peace for smooth operations by (the) oil firms.
“After going through the outcome of the court’s verdict at my disposal authenticating Anyamawari family as certified owners of the land, it is incumbent on SPDC to recognise and treat them as such,” said Mr Ayah who mediated in a peace meeting between Onyoma community in Southern Ijaw and the SPDC.
He advised the Anyamawari family to channel all relevant documents to appropriate quarters of the company for prompt action and payments of all outstanding obligations without further delay.
An official of the SPDC, who said that the oil firm had laid down procedures in resolving issues with communities where it operates, urged the community to follow the same process.
The Bayelsa Government had in January 2016 sued the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, seeking 1.6 trillion naira damages for pollution caused by an oil spill in Brass area of the state in November 2013.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday paid a visit to the Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State, recommending that the region should have a special development zone status.
Osinbajo was accompanied by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu and was received in Delta State by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
In his address of welcome, entitled: ‘We must prepare for the future’, he advocated sustainable development for the Niger Delta region.
“An Area Of Poor Infrastructure”
“The Niger Delta that we see today, including this great kingdom, is an area of poor infrastructure – few schools, few hospitals, and severe pollution.
“The Niger Delta of today, is one of daily pipeline vandalism. In 2014 alone, there were over 3,700 incidents of pipeline vandalism.
“The Niger Delta of today is one where, aside from environmental degradation, between 1998 and 2015, over 20,000 persons have died from fire incidents, arising from breach of the pipeline.
“Everywhere you go, there are signboards of proposed projects, mostly uncompleted or abandoned altogether.
“Many of the initiatives to change the story, have not been able to make the big changes required,” the Vice President stated.
Citing several examples, dating back to the 60’s, down to the present day amnesty programmes, the Professor Osinbajo said many of such programmes have not been able to meet up with their objectives.
However, he charged the people, stressing that “the future, is not a future of environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, poor roads”and the likes.
Rather, it is a future of “progress and development” but according to him, “there is no time, as the future is already here”.
He then stated that in order to ensure that the future is not worse than today, three things must happen.
Also he believes that while the government plays its own part, the people have to combine efforts with it, in order to realise the desired development.
One of such things, he stressed, was that the people “must recognise the unique environmental and terrain challenges of the Niger Delta.
“We must recognise that the Niger Delta is a special development zone for this nation.
“It means that the Federal and State governments, the National Assembly representatives, along-side the NDDC and the civil society representatives, of the Niger Delta people must sit together, develop, plan and fund an arrangement for rapid development,” he stressed.
Also, in furtherance of development in the region, Professor Osinbajo revealed that the Pan Niger Delta Forum had come up with 16 dialogue issues that would be extremely helpful in ascertaining its key development priorities.
He stated that the region must also hold some of the international oil companies, to their agreement with host communities.
“We must promote indigenous participation in oil companies,” he added.
He also hinted that in the 2017 budget, provision had been made for the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar railway. (the coastal railway).
Mr Osinbajo is expected to also visit a number of oil communities across some Niger Delta states, where he is expected to address issues affecting the region and bring an end to militant attacks on Nigeria’s oil and gas facilities.
Spokesperson for the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, described the move as further demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s readiness and determination to comprehensively address the Niger Delta situation.