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Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, says new licences for oil blocks will be issued when the petroleum industry bill is passed by the national assembly.

Speaking at the PIGB symposium organised by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Kachikwu, who was represented by Johnson Awoyomi, a senior technical adviser, said transparency and clear policy direction is needed in the petroleum industry.

“Finally, it is a national priority to have certainty and clarity over the operations of the petroleum industry as it will foster more licensing rounds, enhance revenues and increased economic activities.

“New acreages will be awarded for exploration and production under new laws and terms, especially offshore which is likely to account for much of the growth in the nation’s reserves.

“For too long we have waited for this moment with bated breath and sheer excitement, knowing that the bill will disentangle us from the manacles of inefficiency, low investment drive and opacity.

“After a critical study of the myriad of challenges on ground, we observed that crucial to the fixing of these problems lies in the question of the governance of the industry, and effort from the legal wing which could play a critical role in presenting a robust, effective governance and institutional framework for the management and regulation of petroleum resources in Nigeria.”

In his comments, Waziri Adio, NEITI’s executive secretary, said the assent to the bill will not bring an end to the sector’s challenges.

“We will be deluded to think the job is done. It is not. Succumbing to such a temptation will be wrong-headed and misdirected.

“Here we are not just talking about the need to finally pass the PIGB and transmit it to the president for assent. And not even about ensuring that the other three bills are passed and signed.

“It is more about ensuring effective implementation of the resultant laws in ways that will reposition and transform our oil and gas sector to become a real blessing, and not this needless curse, for our people.”

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