Barely three years after the Amnesty Programme introduced by the federal government for repentant militants curbed the destructive attacks on oil workers and facilities, creating conducive environment for oil companies to re-open oil fields, Nigeria's crude oil production figure has become very erratic, following several attacks on the major arteries from February to date.
This is coming as the Senate and the House of Representatives could not agree on when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be passed into law. Whereas the Senate said yesterday that the passage of the reform bill earlier scheduled for this year, would not happen before 2015, the House promised it would be passed before the end of 2015.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, who made the revelation on the country's erratic crude oil production yesterday, said the daily crude oil production figure ranges between 2.2 million barrels per day (mpbd) and 2.3mbpd.
In his submission to the Senate and House Joint Committee on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2014 to 2016, Yakubu decried the persistent attacks on major pipeline arteries supplying crude oil to export terminals, stressing that the menace had impacted negatively on the nation's economy. "The critical and most important point to note here is that when the artery conveying crude oil to the terminals is hit, this reduces our production volume by 150,000 barrels per day and for the period that the line is down and that accounts for the drop in crude oil production.
"From February to date we have witnessed so much breaches and each time we go down about 150,000bpd goes down," he said. He said the oil and gas sector was a key component of MTEF and any impact on it would have a negative effect on revenue flow to the federation account.
NNPC's acting Group General Manager in charge of the Group Public Affairs Division, Tumini E. Green, quoted Yakubu as saying in a statement that the continuous crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and shut-in had constrained the sector from meeting its revenue projection.
"We have looked at the 2014 oil projection from a realistic point of view and we would continue to recalibrate it with the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the petroleum sector continues to play a key role in the national economy," Yakubu added
According to him, there was no doubt that the menace of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism had received the highest intervention from the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, which he said resulted in the institution of a committee by the National Economic Council (NEC), to work out modalities to mitigate the menace.
He said NNPC actively participated with the Budget Office of the Federation in arriving at the MTEF, adding that the corporation will do everything possible to ensure that the MTEF is achieved in terms of accruals from oil and gas projected input.
The Director General Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, affirmed that the activities of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism coupled with the discovery of shale oil and gas was responsible for the inability of the NNPC to realise the projected 2.5mbpd crude oil production in 2013.
The Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on MTEF, Senator Ahmed Makarfi said the rationale behind the interface with all revenue generating agencies was to x-ray the workability of MTEF.
Also, the National Assembly has stated that the PIB would be passed before 2015, as the legislators stressed that the bill would not solve all the problems facing the country.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos, at an oil trading conference, the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark, said the PIB was a very delicate issue that needed to be handled with care.
Mark, who was represented by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) Senator Magnus Abe, said the bill was not a silver bullet that would automatically solve the country's problems.
"The PIB is not a silver bullet that will solve all of Nigeria's problems. There are lots of problems based not just on the structure of Nigeria but the way we view it as a people.
"There are issues with productivity with the Nigeria worker; the PIB will not solve it. There are issues of inefficiency in the Nigeria economy; the PIB will not solve it. There are lots of issues that are there with us that we can begin to solve before the PIB is passed," he said.
Mark said there was no controversy surrounding the PIB to the best of his knowledge, adding, however, that there were certain sections of the bill that some people were not comfortable with.
Also speaking at the conference, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said the PIB was critical to the survival and growth of the oil and gas sector.
Tambuwal, who was represented by the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Hon. Dakuku Peterside, said the PIB was progressing as planned.
"In the House there was no single dissenting opinion; everybody agreed that the PIB is critical to the survival and growth of the oil and gas industry in the country.
"We are working on the bill and we are conscious of the fact that it is very critical to the economy of Nigeria and so we are not taking it lightly. I want to reassure you again that we are taking the PIB very seriously and I am very optimistic that the bill would be passed before 2015," he said. Tambuwal expressed concern that Nigeria despite its huge hydrocarbon resources and potential was a major importer of petroleum products.