News / Africa

    Nigerian Parliament Debates New Oil Law for Africa's Top Producer

    Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010
    Nigeria's new acting president and commander in chief Goodluck Jonathan is pictured as he takes office in Abuja, 10 Feb 2010

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Nigeria's parliament is debating a new oil law that foreign companies say could drive away billions of dollars in future investment.  The government's petroleum ministry says it will recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax. 

    The Petroleum Industry Bill before Nigeria's parliament allows the government to renegotiate old contracts, increase costs for oil companies and reclaim land that is not yet explored.

    Since taking temporary power last month, Nigerian Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has made the petroleum bill one of his main legislative priorities, saying quick passage is vital to national interest.

    "Nigeria's resources, whether cobalt in the Mabela plateau or the Niger Delta Basin, should be used for the advancement of the Nigerian people.  We must collectively take those steps that would protect our inheritance, even as we work with our foreign partners in the advancement of humanity," Jonathan stated.

    Nigeria's petroleum ministry says the new law will recoup nearly $300 million a month in lost tax revenue.  But oil firms say it will make future exploration in Nigeria unprofitable, driving away investment in Africa's biggest petroleum producer.

    Ann Pickard is the regional executive vice president for the Shell Oil Company.  "The bill as we have seen it, $50 billion will not be invested that would have been invested.  That money will go elsewhere.  Nigeria can not afford to lose those years or those projects.  Nigeria needs cash to invest in infrastructure development.  Nigeria needs cash to grow its domestic gas business.  Delay will derail government vision 2020-20, and means Nigeria will lose competitive momentum," Pickard explained.

    Nigerian oil and gas production has fallen by more than one-quarter since 2005, largely because of a rebellion in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The area is now slowly returning to normal, since thousands of fighters accepted an amnesty offer, six months ago.

    Acting President Jonathan says he is working to secure the gains of that amnesty and better share the profits of Nigeria's oil wealth with people in oil-producing regions.

    But uncertainty about peace in the Niger Delta has led to greater investment in offshore fields that are less vulnerable to sabotage. Foreign firms say that is threatened by legislation that they say would make Nigeria one of the world's harshest climates for oil investment.

    Shell Oil's Pickard agrees there must be changes in the way Nigeria's oil sector is run, but she says not all of those changes are best dealt with in legislation. "What you have to deal with in the legislation, deal with in the legislation," he said. "If you can deal with regulation, deal with the regulation.  So deal with the right pieces."

    At a time when Angola is threatening to take the top spot in African production, Pickard says Nigeria can not afford to make mistakes that will take years to correct.

    Ibrahim Mark is the general secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association.  He says the country needs changes that protect both Nigeria's economy and outside investment.

    "They now know that there are ways of dealing in business in Nigeria that are transparent. There is a way to always have a great return on investment. Because a man who is investing does not want to invest and see his investment go away. He must be sure that whatever he is meeting today will be there for the next 10, 20 years," Mark said.

    Lawmakers here say they have a good bill that -- coupled with stability in the Niger Delta -- will boost government revenues. The bill breaks up the old state-run oil company into smaller, profit-driven units better able to tap international capital markets.

    Members of parliament say Nigeria's take of oil revenue will still be less than Angola or Ghana, and the bill will keep more of the money invested here in Nigeria.  The government says 80 percent of oil investment now ultimately ends up outside the country.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Tells Us About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food reveals about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora