The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) (the Bill), which was set to revolutionize the operations in the Nigerian petroleum industry has been held up in the National Assembly (NA) owing to the inability of stakeholders to agree on its provisions. Following this difficulty, industry stakeholders called for a piecemeal approach to enacting the bill.

Consequently, the Petroleum Industry Governance and Institutional Framework Bill 2015 ("PIGB") has been proposed and formally presented before the NA. The PIGB, which has passed through the first reading sets-out to achieve the following amongst other things: to create efficient and effective governing institutions with clear and separate roles for the petroleum industry; establish a framework for the creation of commercially oriented and profit- driven petroleum entities that ensure value addition and internationalization of the petroleum industry; promote transparency and accountability in the administration of the petroleum resources of Nigeria; and to foster a conducive business environment for petroleum industry operations.

There are certain discrepancies reflected in the new bill which are in contrast with the old PIB. The PIGB provides for the overhauling of existing entities regulating the sector; for instance the establishment of the National Petroleum Company (NPC) and the Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management Company (NPAMC) are proposed to take over and manage the assets and liabilities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The proposed NPAMC, at incorporation, shall be held by the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in a ratio of 90% to 1%. The National Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC) is also provided for in the PIGB to replace the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Inspectorate and Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

According to the bill, the NPC is exempted from provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and the Public Procurement Act, 2007. The cumulative effect of this is that the NPC will not be required to file reports on its operations and budgets to the Ministry of Finance or any other authorities concerned; thus, making it run more like a private entity than a statutory corporation.

Subject to the successful passage of the bill, the PIGB also stipulates the sale of 40% stake in the proposed Oil firm (NPC) and the immediate sale of 10% of the stake upon incorporation of the NPC as a corporate entity; and the gradual sale of 40% in the next few years. The proposed sale is contingent upon the successful process in passage of the bill, which is yet to be formally presented before the legislature, and incorporation of the NPC.

In the face of the foregoing and other provisions of the PIGB, questions that readily come to mind are: what would be the effect of the provisions of the PIGB as it relates to the PIB and other the existing laws? Considering the subject matters included in the PIB and which have not been addressed in PIGB, where does the law stand? The provision of Part 6 (section 84) of the PIGB stipulates that, "the provisions of all existing enactments or laws, including but not limited to the Petroleum Act, Pipeline Act, Petroleum Profit Tax Act and the Companies and Allied Matters Act, shall be read with such modifications as to bring them into conformity with the provisions of this Act." By the provision of subsection (2) of this Section, the PIGB shall prevail in the event of any inconsistency.

Furthermore, although there has been agitation as the remaining part of the PIB is not reflected in the PIGB {e.g. the Petroleum Host Community Fund (PHCF)}, the PIGB, being a fragment of the PIB, caters for the governance and institutional framework of the operations in the Petroleum Industry. Therefore, the PIGB does not anticipate to cater for all subject matters in the PIB. The foregoing notwithstanding, in the event the PIB, or any fragment of it is considered for passage into law, it is expected that the provisions of the PIB replicated in the PIGB be expunged before same is passed into law.

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