House of Reps Committee of Whole passes PIGB, Unbundles NNPC 

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) containing the restructuring and reformation of the nation’s oil and gas industry.

With the passage of the 134-clause bill, the stage is now set for the unbundling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and merger of its subsidiaries into an entity.

The bill was passed following the adoption of the report and recommendations by the ad hoc committee on Petroleum Industry Bill.

During consideration of the report before the committee of the whole House, the deputy chairman of the ad hoc committee on Petroleum Industry Bill and chairman of the House committee on Petroleum Resources (upstream), Hon. Victor Nwokolo, explained that some subsidiaries of the NNPC had also been merged into an entity to be known as the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission.

Highlights of the bill include unbundling of the NNPC and other like bodies and the creation of new ones.

The bill also provides for the establishment of a new regulatory agency known as the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC), which would take over the functions of Petroleum Inspectorate (PI), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

The NPRC will administer and enforce policies, laws and regulations relating to all aspects of petroleum operations that are assigned to it under the provisions of the Act.

The proposed legislation also seeks the establishment of two new companies namely Nigeria Petroleum Assets Management Company (NPAMC) and National Petroleum Company (NPC).

The NPAMC will retain certain assets and liabilities of the NNPC, while the NPC would operate as a full independent commercial entity.

The PIGB which stipulates that the ministry of Petroleum Resources would be renamed ‘Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated’ also provides that “upon the recommendations of the new commission, minister of petroleum resources can grant, amend, renew, extend or revoke any licence or lease required for petroleum or production, pursuant to the provisions of the Act or any other enactment”.

In the same vain, the bill also provides that when the commission is created, it shall be vested with all assets, funds, resources and other movable and immovable property, which immediately before the commencement of operation of the new commission, were held by the PI, DPR and PPPRA.

The bill however vested more powers on the commission, as the president or the minister of Petroleum Resources, who hitherto had such powers, would no longer have same.

By implication, the bill seeks to whittle down the powers of the president and the minister of Petroleum Resources in exercising control over the oil and gas sector.