From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday met with some stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to continue Federal Government’s consultations ahead of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly.
In a statement by VP’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, titled “Petroleum Industry Bill: We need to produce largest oil volumes possible at cheaper costs, tells oil and gas stakeholders”, Osinbajo urged stakeholders in the industry at the virtual meeting to find and agree on cheaper means of producing oil while also ensuring a more competitive environment that meets the needs and purposes of Nigeria, including the largest production volumes possible.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had on Tuesday said that there are forces within and outside the country that would work against the passage of the bill which President Muhammadu Buhari, presented to the National Assembly in September 2020.
The bill which has passed second reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, is to foster sustainable development in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The Vice-President stressed that the stakeholders that attended the virtual meeting as being under the auspices of the Oil Producers Trade Section in Nigeria, and the Independent Petroleum Producers Group.
Osinbajo said that “We need to agree on terms that will give us a more competitive environment.
“We should find a way of producing oil cheaper at the largest volume possible given the circumstances and future of oil itself, and of course, given our requirements and needs.”
The VP also stressed the need for stakeholders in the sector to agree on terms to create a more competitive environment, while maximising opportunities in the oil and gas industry.
He said, “The other point is that of gas. To sound the question of reconciling and maintaining our domestic gas obligation, and at the same time improving the gas environment in such a way that we are able to benefit maximally from it as a business and government.
“I like the concept that gas should be an enabler for quick development and I think that we must reach some kind of balance with this, especially with this question around domestic gas obligation.
“I would like OPTS and IPPG to look more carefully and see in what ways we can come to some agreements as to how it should be done.”
On the benefits of harmonising interests in the PIB, Osinbajo said the passage of the PIB should be seen as an opportunity to transform the industry by addressing lingering issues that have impeded development across the different sectors that make up the industry.
“Businesses would like to invest and invest more in this environment. So, that is the point of convergence.
“We want more investments and obviously state governments like more investments, and you (private companies) would like to invest so that you can make more money.
“No question about that; what we should seek to do is to see to what extent we can come to that convergence,” the Vice President said.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Silva, on his part said that the interaction with the stakeholders in the petroleum industry is indicative of their commitment to the transformation of the industry through the PIB.
He assured them that working with other stakeholders, including the National Assembly, the PIB as conceived by the present regime would be passed into law.
On his part, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, said most of the concerns raised by stakeholders have been addressed in the proposal before the National Assembly.
He noted that the Federal Government has moved from its previous position to one that is more competitive and attractive to investors.
The Chairman of OPTS, Mike Sangster, who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Total E&P Nigeria Ltd, said stakeholders remain committed to making Nigeria the “preeminent hydrocarbon province” in the region and the world.