Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nigeria oil reforms to be taken up by new parliament

2 June 2011

Nigeria oil reforms to be taken up by new parliament

ABUJA (Reuters) - Wide-ranging reforms to Nigeria's oil industry will be left to a new parliament to consider but the bill may not have to go back to a first reading, reducing the risk of further long delays, lawmakers said on Wednesday.

Uncertainty over the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), a massive piece of legislation that will redefine Nigeria's decades-old relationship with foreign oil firms, has left billions of dollars of potential investment on hold.

The reforms will alter the tax and regulatory framework for projects in Africa's top oil and gas producer, and firms such as Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron are reluctant to commit until there is clarity.

Oil Minister Deziani Allison-Madueke had repeatedly promised the bill would be passed by the current parliament, which reaches the end of its term on Friday, and there were fears that it would face long delays should it fail to do so.

A new parliament usually takes bills left over from the outgoing administration back to a first reading, meaning new committees have to be formed before months of debate on issues already covered in the previous session.

But lawmakers said the Senate had altered its rules and would not have to restart the process from scratch.

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