Nigerian Long Delayed Oil Reform Bill to Pass 'Within Six Months'


Nigeria's House of Representatives will pass a long-delayed oil reform bill within six months, its speaker said on Tuesday, potentially paving the way for an overhaul of laws governing the country's oil and gas industry.

The reforms have been in the works for nearly two decades and President Muhammadu Buhari sent the latest effort to the National Assembly in late September.

The legislation looks to revise laws governing Nigeria's oil and gas exploration which have not been fully updated since the 1960s because of the contentious nature of any change to oil taxes, terms and revenue-sharing.

Oil executives have said reforms are key for Nigeria to attract investment in an era of low oil prices and a shift away from fossil fuels.

The government had aimed to pass the reforms by mid-summer.

House Speaker Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila said the House would pass the bill "within the next six months, or probably less."

But he said the Oil Producers Trade Section, an industry group that includes international companies such as Total and Chevron as well as local companies such as Aiteo and Oando, told him that the bill in its present form, "doesn't provide the environment for future investments."

Gbajabiamila said the group took issue with a variety of provisions, including sections on royalties, tax, how to handle state oil company NNPC's outstanding liabilities and the segregation of the upstream and downstream, among other complaints. 

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh, Editing by Jane Merriman)

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