Lawmakers strip President of power over oil licences

The House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Petroleum Industry Bill has stripped the President of his “discretionary power” to grant petroleum licences and leases to operators in the country’s oil and gas industry.

In removing this power as contained in Section 191 of the original bill, the committee recommended competitive bidding for such awards to “avoid the practice whereby the power for the award of oil blocks was discretionary.”

The committee, which is chaired by the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Ishaka Bawa, made the recommendation in its report on the PIB laid before the House in Abuja on Thursday.

Similarly, the committee recommended the removal of the Minister of Petroleum Resources as the chairman of the National Oil Company proposed to assume the duties of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other key industry agencies.

The minister is also no longer empowered to recommend to the President who to appoint as the chairmen ‎of the boards of agencies listed in the PIB.

The agencies include Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate Agency; Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency; Asset Management Corporation ; and any other corporate entity established by the Act (PIB).

The House is yet to consider and approve or reject the report.

But, the committee made far-reaching recommendations on many areas generating controversies in the oil and gas industry.

On the Petroleum Host Community Fund, the committee expanded the beneficiaries to include non-oil producing communities in the country.

In the new recommendations, communities where pipelines pass through or have depots and refineries, will now benefit from oil revenues.

“In the bill, a new Section 118 cover‎s both upstream and downstream sectors.

“This innovation is intended to allay the raging distrust between oil-producing and non-producing communities in the country,” the report explained.

A Frontier Oil Services Agency is recommended to step up exploration activities in already identified oil basins like Sokoto, Anambra, Benue, Bida, Benin and Chad.

The agency is to be funded through taxes from oil production operations and “national budgetary allocations in dual funding strategy aimed at strengthening the agency and its operations.”

Credit: John Ameh/Punch


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