Delay in PIGB passage capable of driving investors from Nigeria –SEPLAT CEO

Austin Avuru, Seplat

Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Austin Avuru has lamented the delay that trailed the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), stressing that the delay is capable of driving away would-be investors from the Nigerian petroleum sector.

Making the disclosure at Oreropke, Delta State during the closing ceremony of the 6th edition of the Eye Can See programme organized by the company, Avuru urged the Federal Government to create a level playing and conducive environment for the company to operate within the ambit of the law.

He said: “If you propose a bill that would regulate the industry for the past 15 years and it takes so long, it is capable of driving investors away. The biggest issue about the PIGB over the past 15 years is not what should be contained in the bill or what shouldn’t be there, but the suspense in the process of passing the law over the past 15 years.

“So, my take on the PIB, is that if we can pass all the versions of the PIB and have the law in place before the end of this year, it would be a wonderful achievement for the national assembly and this current government.

“The previous government didn’t show any true honesty in ensuring the legislation is passed into law. So if this current administration can pass all the components into law and take away the uncertainty that the absence of the law has caused, it would be something that everybody should be happy about.”

Giving details on what the company is doing to stop gas flaring in its exploration, the Seplat boss said: “If there is any company that is investing heavily to reduce gas flaring, it is Seplat. Since we came in, there has been huge reduction in gas flaring, so you would see in the next couple of months, there would be the absence of gas flaring and we are investing heavily on that as we believe gas should be monetized and that’s why we are investing heavily on it.”

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, IbeKachikwu, had said that: “When the matter of the PIGB was brought to my attention in the earlier part of the year, I was at that time working closely with His Excellency, the President in addressing some critical governance and performance issues in NNPC, whilst simultaneously attempting to deal with some long standing problems that were threatening the sustainability of the industry.

“Fundamental to the resolution of these problems is the question of the governance of the industry, and the role that the law could play in presenting a more effective governance and institutional model for the management of Nigeria’s petroleum resources and the regulation of activities within the sector.

“All studies conducted on the petroleum sector since 1999 are settled on the issue that the role of government in the sector needs to be better clarified whilst the policy, regulatory and commercial institutions need to be given a refocused mandate to ensure better sector governance, transparency of regulations and operations, accountability of the institutions, and removal of opaqueness around the industry.

“For these reasons, we took the position within the executive, to address these issues by commencing with an overhaul of sector policies. Internal dialogues have been held within the executive on critical sector issues and, recently, with stakeholders in industry and civil society. The outcome of this process is a draft National Oil Policy, a draft National Gas Policy and a draft Fiscal Policy, all of which have undergone a public consultation process and are awaiting presentation to the Federal Executive Council.

“To clarify, we take taken a root and branch effort to reform, which is the basis of these policies, and which I humbly recommend to you. To ensure the sustainability of the policies, we have developed an executive bill and are in the process of developing fiscal bill that captures the critical policy positions, and these bills will be submitted to the National Assembly very soon.”