28 February 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS - THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has denied the assertion of most Nigerians and stakeholders in government and oil sector that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the country’s parliament has been serially multiplied.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr. Austen Oniwon, made the assertion in response to questions from delegates and journalists at the just-concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) 2012 conference in Abuja.
According to him, there is just one document submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Assembly for deliberations prior to approval.
“It is however important to note that the submission of this bill generated a lot of controversy that brought about a public hearing which resulted in every interest group coming up with suggestions and modifications, that is probably what is been seen by the public as multiplicity,” he said, adding : “The PIB is just one and it is the same one submitted to the National Assembly by Mr. President.”
However, it would be recalled that only recently the Senate President, Senator David Mark, claimed that he had about three versions of the bill on his desk and that left him at a loss on how to proceed.
The GMD, who insisted that there is only one version of the all-important bill, however, used the opportunity to disclose that other IOCs will benefit from the federal government renewal of old oil licenses, which it started with Exxonmobil.
Specifically, the NNPC boss said that all licenses awaiting renewal would be dealt with expeditiously within the next couple of months.
Speaking on the contracting cycle that has been a serious factor affecting the oil sector in Nigeria, Oniwon said the current system is a big improvement on what it used to be, but that the government is doing everything possible to ensure it reduced the bureaucracy involved in contract processing in order to achieve a 45-day processing period.
This effort, according to him, is aimed at moving the industry forward and bringing about a swift process, which would encourage more investments in the nation’s economy.
He also noted that the lease renewals are subject to existing industry laws and guidelines and would be reviewed accordingly as soon as the PIB is passed.
The Managing Director of Exxonmobil in Nigeria, Mr. Mark Ward, however, assured that the renewal of his company’s licenses be beneficial to both the nation and his organisation.
He revealed that the issue of cashcalls from the senior partner, NNPC, has been taken care of as a third party funding has been secured from banks.