Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with investors in the oil industry on Tuesday to examine ways to reduce the cost of production of crude oil and make Nigeria’s oil more competitive.
He encouraged stakeholders to find and agree on cheaper means of producing oil in order to attain the largest production volumes possible.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, on Wednesday, said Osinbajo spoke at a virtual meeting on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) with stakeholders in the industry under the auspices of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) in Nigeria, and Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG).
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Osinbajo stated, “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 meeting, according to Akande, is part of consultations ahead of the passage of the PIB.
The Vice President noted that in line with the focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, there was a 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 added, “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.”
Speaking further on the benefits of harmonising interests in the PIB, Osinbajo observed that the passage of the PIB should be seen as an opportunity to transform the industry by addressing lingering issues that had prevented 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.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, said the interaction with the stakeholders in the petroleum industry showed their commitment to the transformation of the industry through the PIB.
He assured that working with other stakeholders, including the National Assembly, the PIB as conceived by the government would be passed into law.
The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari said that most of the concerns raised by stakeholders had been addressed in the proposal before the National Assembly.
He noted that the Federal Government had moved from its previous position to one that was more competitive and attractive to investors.
Commending the efforts of the Buhari administration in guiding the process of having a new law for the industry, the Chairman of OPTS, Mr. Mike Sangster, who is also the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Total E&P Nigeria, said stakeholders remained committed to making Nigeria the “preeminent hydrocarbon province” in the region and the world.
Status of PIB
The new PIB, which was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in September last year, has already passed the second reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The central aim of the bill is to foster sustainable development in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, had assured Nigerians that the passage of the PIB will form the priority of the National Assembly when it resumes plenary on January 26.
Lawan likened the bill to a demon that had defied every effort to deal with it in the past 20 years.