A Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Dr. Dayo Ayoade, has expressed regrets that 100 years after the commencement of petroleum exploration in Nigeria, and after over 50 years of commercial exploration, the upstream oil and gas legal and regulatory infrastructure has remained abysmal.
Ayoade equally decried the lackadaisical attitude of those in authority to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 10 years after the bill was sent to the National Assembly.
Reviewing a book titled: “Petroleum Law & Sustainable Development” written by Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) and Dr. Oscar Nliam, at the public presentation in Lagos, Ayoade argued that if the PIB had been passed, many of the anomalies in the petroleum sector would have been addressed.
He noted that Nigeria loses billions of dollars due to the delay in the passage of the PIB and wondered why it would take over 10 years to get the bill passed.
He said: “One hundred and six years after the commencement of petroleum exploration in Nigeria, and over half a century of commercial exploitation, the Nigerian upstream oil and gas legal and regulatory infrastructure remains in a state of flux with the decade long reform enshrined in the much awaited enactment of the PIB.
“The critical gap in the existing legal regime essentially lies in the failure of legislation, policy and contracts to entrench the sustainable development principle. Thus this important book represents an opportunity for key stakeholders in the onshore and offshore oil industry such as government, international oil companies (IOCs), host communities and civil society to ensure that the legislative reform process as well as corporate and community conduct is carried out in line with the recommendations established in this work.
“There is no doubt that sustainable development is a critical factor in achieving an efficient and functional regulatory framework that integrates the needs of present and future generations. Ajogwu and Liam are thus correct to investigate sustainable development at the international, regional and national level in line with its impact on environmental aspects of petroleum exploration and management. ”
He said the book was lucidly written and thus easily accessible to an audience of lawyers, judges, oil and gas practitioners and students.
According to him, the work uses academic and professional literature to illustrate its arguments, which are further underpinned by a comparative methodology approach that allow the authors to cite cogent examples from diverse upstream jurisdictions in the UK, US, Middle East and South America.
“It is confusing that the PIB is taking over ten years to run and everyone is concerned. Nigeria is losing billions of dollars. Increasingly, our biggest market in the world doesn’t even want our oil, and what do we do? We really need to pass the industry bill. We need to firm up the major controversy which is on the tax aspect of the bill. We need to pass the bill, otherwise we will continue to lose grounds to Kenya, Mozambique and other African countries now entering the oil and gas industry”, he added.