Monday, 14 March 2011

PIB advances, but further delays likely

The House of Representatives' Joint Committee responsible for review of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has reportedly agreed on a draft of the Bill, which will now be submitted to the chamber of the House for a third reading on 15th March.

The Joint Committee, led by the Committee on Petroleum Upstream, met on 10th March to approve the draft following a compromise on deepwater fiscals was hammered out with the technical committee of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

While there has been a recent increase in pressure from the presidency to secure the PIB's ratification prior to the elections scheduled for April, it remains highly uncertain that the PIB will be passed in this term, because the legislature is scheduled to go into recess on 16th March. We understand that additional drafting is required, before at least a week's consideration in committee and several days of line-by-line debate in the House. It therefore now seems likely that the final version of the PIB will be passed after the April elections but before the official end of the current government in May.

According to sources in Abuja, members of President Goodluck Jonathan's Campaign Committee are increasingly concerned that the incumbent may not secure victory in the first round of the presidential election on 9th April. If these concerns prove prescient, then the ratification of the PIB – in whatever form – could be delayed by a number of months.

Moreover, if the Bill's ratification is not undertaken before the end of the current term, more substantial reformulation may be required, with new legislators likely to push for modifications in an effort assert their control over the legislative process.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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