Nigeria Oil Bill Delayed by COVID-19 Says NNPC Boss

LAGOS (Reuters) — Nigeria has postponed its long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will pass it before the end of the year, the head of state oil company NNPC said on Wednesday. 

The government was aiming to pass the sprawling legislation overhaul by the end of July, but NNPC boss Mele Kyari said that lockdowns across Nigeria had pushed back the timetable.

“We have lost time because of COVID-19,” he said on a webinar. “But I know within this year we will be able to deliver on this.”

Kyari also said the government was close to announcing a deal to build a 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) condensate splitter and that it would partner with private companies for the money and the expertise to fix its own ailing oil refineries and pipelines. 

In the works for nearly two decades, the PIB bill governs everything from oilfield licensing rounds to the share of oil wealth that stays in the Niger Delta region which produces most of Nigeria’s crude.

Companies have said they cannot invest significantly in Nigeria until the bill has passed citing regulatory uncertainty as a hurdle along with low oil prices and an increase in government’s take of deepwater oil revenue passed last year.

He acknowledged that previous efforts to fix the refineries, which were totally shut down in April, were “bungled”, but said he was confident Nigeria could soon produce all the fuel it consumes.

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