The Nigerian government says it is overhauling its policies on oil and gas and that it would soon roll out a new national policy for the sector.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said this on Monday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, during the second meeting of the National Council on Hydrocarbon.
Mr. Kachikwu said the new policy, which has been approved by the Federal Executive Council, will create a market-driven oil and gas industry, maximise the production and processing of hydrocarbons, and move the country away from oil as a source of income to oil as a fuel for economic growth.
He said the policy will also minimise the environmental footprint of oil exploration and production, and manage the balance between depleting oil resources versus renewable energy.
He said the policy, in addition, will help move the country's economy from oil to gas, extend gas penetration in the domestic market in order to facilitate the growth of the electric power, agricultural, and industrial sectors, as well as end and commercialise gas flaring and address environmental issues, and provide enabling environment for increased private sector participation in the gas sector.
The minister said that a new fiscal policy for the sector has been developed and that it was awaiting the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
The minister explained why the overhauling of the nation's oil and gas policy was necessary.
"All studies conducted on the Nigeria petroleum sector since 1999 are settled on the issue that the role of Government in the oil and gas sector needs to be better clarified whilst the policy, regulatory and commercial institutions need to be given a refocused mandate to ensure better sector governance, transparency of regulations and operations, accountability of the institutions, and removal of opaqueness around the industry," the minister said.
Mr. Kachikwu said the new policy will, among other things, enhance fiscal neutrality, create a fiscal basis that will encourage investments and market developments while promoting competitiveness and cost efficiency for the benefit of both government and the industry operators.
He said, "Hitherto, the Nigerian downstream infrastructure has been solely financed by the government because of the social and economic impact, high investment requirements and long gestation period.
"Due to competing needs for government resources from other public sector services, most oil and gas infrastructure development projects should be financed and managed through private sector participation.
"It is in the light of this that comprehensive reforms are ongoing to fast-track the development of private sector-led downstream infrastructure for effective competition and efficient service delivery," the minister said.
The minister expressed the federal government's commitment to continue to develop the Niger Delta region, with emphasis on job creation, investment in infrastructure, energy, and promotion of sustainable livelihood.