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NNPC GMD risks jail term, N500m fine if…

*As senate passes Production Sharing amendment Bill

Future Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation( NNPC) faces a possible five-year jail term with an option of N500 million where it fails to call on the relevant officers of the corporation to review the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Bill which passed third reading on Tuesday at plenary.

The Senate had, on Tuesday, considered and passed the bill in the committee of the whole after it received the report from the joint committees on Petroleum Upstream, Gas, Finance and judiciary which met with stakeholders on the best option to regulate the sector at Monday public hearing in Abuja.

The Senate noted that the extant law to be amended left Nigeria drawing only 0.21 per cent royalty from the 275.25 million barrel of crude produced per year.

The law was enacted in 1993 with an obligation on all parties to review the contract in 15 years and subsequently make a review every five years.

The review never took place until the bill and motion sponsored by Akpan Bassey, Akwa-Ibom North-East (PDP) and Ifeanyi Uba Anambra South (YPP) urging the Senate to review the law for the economic benefit of Nigeria.

The Bill passed by the Senate prescribes about 12 per cent aggregate royalty to the federal government comprising of 10 per cent royalty for an increase of on $20 to $60 and a statutory 2.5 per cent share on production.

This has been calculated to possibly yield about $1.5 billion to the national coffers from the agreement on the same 275.25 million barrel produced annually by Nigeria.

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan congratulated the senate for the passage of the bill stating that: “We have done what could not be done between 2003 till date. Today marks milestone in the history of the Senate particularly, this senate and indeed the National assembly that we can do whatever it s for our people and for our country by passing this bill Nigeria will gain $1.5 in 2020 as a result of passing this amendment.”

He assures international oil companies (IOCs) that the national assembly will continue to work an enabling environment for them to so their business through legislation will secure the interests of Nigeria.

The bill was passed with an amendment on clause 17 which earlier prescribed 10 years periodic review of the law to meet the industry reality but the senate adopted 8 years following the counsel of the Senate leader Abdullahi Yahaya who argued that senators should consider the implication of the review period for five years in s sensitive sector.

According to him: “Just imagine that you are an investor and it will take you five years to reach an investment decision and when you were about to invest and the rules of the game completely changed.

“Will you invest?

“These are the issue that we need to really sit down and consider before taking any other decision on this very crucial and important matter because it will impact on the investment decision these companies are going to take.

“And if it takes them up to thirty years to reach a decision and then we change the rule of the game just when they are about to reach a decision, imagine the impact of that on the progress of our own industry?”

Also amended was clause 18 which stipulated the penalty of N50 million or an option of five years imprisonment which the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege protested and proposed a heavier fine.

“In any event, Mr President, the N50 million fine is too small for a period of not less than one year or both what is that?

“I hereby propose as a punitive measure N500 million or 5 years, this will deter them from even thinking about it.”

The motion was seconded by Senator Mpigi Barinada, Rivers South East (PDP) and adopted by the senate.