Nigeria Approves Petroleum Industry Bill After 17 Long Years

A 17-year-old effort by the Nigerian government to stimulate growth and transparency in the petroleum industry is taking a step forward in the country’s legislature, according to a new Reuters report.

The lower house of the Nigerian parliament passed a version of the bill identical to one approved by the Senate in 2017. This marks the first time the same version of the bill has been passed by both houses. Now the president just needs to ink the Petroleum Industry Bill to make it a law.

“The PIGB, as passed yesterday, is the same as passed by the Senate. We have harmonized everything and formed the National Assembly Joint Committee on PIB,” Alhassan Ado Doguwa, a key PIB lawmaker in the House of Representatives, told reporters on Thursday. “Every consideration of the bills is now under the joint committee. We have broken the jinx after 17 years. We are working on the other accompanying bills.”

New taxation legislation will follow the passage of this bill, potentially making it even more attractive for foreign oil and gas majors to pursue projects in Nigeria – particularly in the offshore sector.

“It’s an unprecedented step forward. The PIB is something that has defied the last two governments,” Antony Goldman of PM Consulting said. “The detail of what is agreed will determine the extreme to which the bill takes politics out of the sector and tackles systemic corruption.”

Nigeria is due for presidential and national assembly elections in February 2019, making 2018 critical for incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who has led the country through three years of bearish oil markets and recovered crude output after months of attacks from Niger Delta militants. If Buhari signs the bill, it would complement his push to rid his nation’s oil business of corruptive forces.