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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs