Just as the nation awaits the remaining bits of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), oil marketers’ under the aegis of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DPPMAN) and others have picked holes in the proposed single regulator for the nation’s oil and gas industry.
It would be recalled that in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, which has been passed by the National Assembly, the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission replaces the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Petroleum Inspectorate and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency as the sole regulator for the entire industry.
Making their objection known at a joint briefing in Lagos, both the associations and other organized Private Sector (OPS) operators rose in unison to reject having a single regulator for the upstream and downstream sectors of the industry.
Their key reason is to avoid cases of too much bureaucracy that will make the process of decision-making herculean while the industry suffers.
According to the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, “Our position is that one regulator for the industry will be too big as to be very effective. It is going to be humongous and a behemoth, and may even lose shape and become amorphous”.
“At the very beginning, we had only one regulator in the industry, and we found out that it was able to police the industry very well. We believe that the upstream (sector) is enough, not to think of bringing the troublesome downstream. The upstream is relatively quiet but the volume of work there is massive; so, you need a regulator that will pay attention to it.”
Continuing, he said “Our recommendation is that we want two regulators – one for the upstream and the other for the downstream.”
He argued that it will be wrong to have one regulator for both streams knowing full well that the downstream and upstream sectors have little or nothing in common.
He added that the two regulators should have independent status, with their heads not subject to removal by the President.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Economic Policy Committee, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mr. Reginald Odiah, said the OPS, made up of MAN, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association; Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, among others, was not carried along before the bill was passed.
He noted that “The bill came all of a sudden; we didn’t have enough time to look at it. Many of the critical stakeholders didn’t contribute much to it. Our position is very clear as the OPS under the chairmanship of MAN, that we are interested in having two regulatory bodies”.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of DAPPMAN, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, recalled that the marketers had recommended the creation of two independent regulatory bodies during the public hearing held before the bill was passed by the lawmakers.
He expressed worry on why “This was not taken into consideration or adopted; so, before the President signs it, that is why we are highlighting the issues so that they can be considered for possible amendment”.
The passed Bill is yet to be assented by the President.