Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) conducted its fourth Benchmarking Exercise Report (BER) for the oil and gas sector, where it listed institutional gaps, harped on transparency and pushed for stronger legislation for the industry.
The report noted that gaps remain in the institutional and legal frameworks of the oil and gas sector, as none of the components of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) or CAMA (as well as other critical pieces of legislation) have been signed into law.
It also noted the deteriorating domestic refining capacity over the past few years makes the reduction of petroleum product imports less likely.
“While NEITI released a publicly available BOR (a step towards transparency), the lack of appropriate legislation (CAMA) to back the BOR threatens its efficacy. The government is, however, taking steps to implement a gas commercialisation programme to reduce gas flaring and emissions”, the report added.
As regards exploration, licensing, and monitoring operations, the report reckoned that no significant improvements have been recorded since 2017.
“Some developments with the collection and disclosure of data were observed. Still, critical anticipated legislation and amendments to existing laws that would enshrine sustainable and equitable licencing practices in the oil and gas sector did not become law during the review period.
“These include the Petroleum Industry Administrative Bill (PIAB) and the Environmental Impact Assessment EIA Act. The Petroleum Minister still retains discretionary powers over the award of licences and attempts to limit those powers were thwarted by the withheld assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
“No major bid rounds were conducted during the review period; the absence of much-needed reforms backed by legislation implies that the licensing process could still be abused”.
BER is usually carried out to provide an assessment of the governance of Nigeria’s petroleum wealth. Three previous exercises were conducted and published in 2012, 2014, and 2017 respectively.
Oversight and coordination was provided by the Programme Coordinator of the NNRC, Tengi Goerge-Ikoli.
For the 2019 edition, the NNRC entered into a partnership with a consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) comprising of the Centre for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA), We the People: Centre for Social Studies and Development (CSSD), the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), and Social Action (SA).