The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) forwarded by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly last week, is likely to be passed in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, extractive360 has learnt.
Public Hearings on the Bill may begin by November, 2020, extractive360 gathered, while the Senate has fixed Tuesday, October 20, 2020, to debate the bill.
Disclosing the date for the debate moments before the upper chamber adjourned plenary on Thursday, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said early debate on the bill is expected to avert any delay in consideration, resulting from the upper chamber’s decision to suspend plenary for one month to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government defend their respective budgets for the year 2021.
Lawan added that the critical piece of legislation, after the debate on the floor by lawmakers, would then pass for second reading and be referred to the Joint Committees on Petroleum; and Gas for further legislative work.
“For the PIB, we need to get the document to our Joint Committee before we suspend plenary, otherwise, the document will remain unattended to throughout the time that we would be handling the budget; and that means we can only come back to it around November or December, and that would be late.
“Everybody is waiting for the PIB to be attended to, but we will take sufficient time to work on it because it is a very sensitive document. Nevertheless, we should take the debate and Second Reading of the PIB by the upper week, Tuesday 20th, 2020, and refer the document to our Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream); and Gas,” Lawan said.
He explained that while work is being done on the budget, the Committees can keep work on the PIB.
“Our Joint Committee must do everything possible for us to have a document or report that we would work with in the Senate and something that Nigerians and investors will be happy with,” the Senate President said, according to a statement Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate.
Meanwhile, oil sector expert, Michael Faniran, while speaking In Lagos on Thursday, at a policy dialogue on reporting the oil and gas sector, organized by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), stated that despite work on the 2021 budget, which is very necessary and time bound, the Senate relevant Committees would keep work alive on the PIB.
He noted that while the Bill may not be perfect, it will usher in a regime better than what presently exists in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. “We made a good progress in terms of fiscals, this can push us a bit further, because the world is leaving us behind,” Faniran said.