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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid