Adeola Yusuf: 25 February 2010
Lagos Federal Government came down hard on Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday over its opposition to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), insisting that the oil major was wrong in its assessment that the bill would block investment.
Ann Pickard, outgoing Regional Executive Vice President, Shell Exploration and Production, Africa, had on Tuesday described the PIB as “a cumbersome document that lacks insight into the very basics of our industry.”
While forecasting a bleak future for the oil and gas industry post-PIB, Pickard, during a public lecture, also criticised the fiscal provisions of the proposed law which she described as the “harshest in the world”.
But Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwanu Lukman, told journalists on the sideline of the Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) conference in Abuja that Pickard was economical with facts in her presentation.
“Let’s wait and see. Very soon we would know who is wrong,” he said. Lukman’s opinion was corroborated by Pedro Van Meurs, world renowned energy consultant, who described Shell’s opposition to the fiscal provisions of the PIB as one induced by the desire to make more profit for its shareholders.
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Levi Ajuonuma, maintained that “fresh insight was provided on why Anglo-Dutch oil behemoth, Shell, is at the fore-front of a renewed attempt to scuttle the planned passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, which is currently before the National Assembly.”
Meurs, who incidentally is from Netherlands, home country of Shell, according to the NNPC’s statement, stated that there is nothing in the proposed law that will scuttle future investment in the industry.
“There is no truth in the allegation that PIB fiscal system is the harshest in the world or that it will halt investment.
“I have been advising governments all over the world for over 40 years and I know that this is a battle whereby the oil company will try to get out of the parliament the highest possible share.
“So they make loud noise so maybe somebody out there might be listening to them. But the role of the minister is to make sure that the country’s interest is protected by insisting on a fair share.
“I can tell you that for every one company that is planning to leave, I know of 50 new ones that are planning to come in once the door is open,” he was quoted as saying.