Oil & Gas Lawyers set Agenda for Govt. at PIB Retreat in Lagos
Since its introduction as a bill before Nigerian National Assembly in 2000, the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has undergone various incarnations, elicited various responses and been the subject of various interpretations. Since 2000 also it has undergone a number of transformations, to the point where, today, it goes by various designations and has been unbundled into at least four separate sections.
It was these incarnations, transformations and interpretations – as well as the vexed question of why the Bill has not been passed till date, even after 17 years of parliamentary debate and tinkering – that a selection of lawyers who specialize in the workings of the oil and gas industry gathered to explore at a 2-day retreat at the Southern Sun Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos on the 26th and 27th of October, 2017. Held under the auspices of Bromshy Communications, the event, whose theme was ‘Petroleum Industry Bill: Its Implementation a Panacea for Sustainable Growth & Self-Reliance’ was brilliantly moderated by Dr. Austin Tam-Austin, a former commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State and a renowned sustainability consultant. Newswire law and events was on ground to capture activities at the conference.
Each day of the retreat featured 3 discussion sessions, followed by lively interactive sessions featured questions as well as comments and even revelations. The first session on Thursday, the first day, which was chaired by Mr. Mordechai Baba Ladan (a director in the department of petroleum services), discussed the topic “Role of the Executives.” He was assisted in his task by Mr. Amaitari Hamilton Andabai, Esq., Manager Legal, Nigeria’s Petroleum Development Company, NPDC) and a senior lecturer at the Niger Delta University, Dr. Perowei Subai.
The second session, which examined the role of local companies and investors, was chaired by Dr. Soji Awogbade, a partner at AELEX LP & A, who was joined by an expert in the oil and gas industry, Mr. Sam Aiboni (company secretary at Gas Aggregation Company of Nigeria)
Under the chairmanship of Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, a senior advocate of Nigeria, ably represented by Mr. John Onyido, a senior partner at SPA Ajibade & Co., the third session of the day looked critically at the role of multinational companies domiciled in Nigeria on his panel were Alhaji Sadiq Adamu, an executive director and general counsel at Exxon Mobil, with Mr. Emmanuel Ogunsan, an associate at Sola Ojulatayo & Co.
The second and closing day of the retreat opened with a critical look at the role of law firms in bringing satisfactory closure to the PIB conundrum. The first session, chaired by the foremost commercial lawyer Mr. George Etomi, had a panel consisting of Dr. Adeoye Adefulu, a partner at Odujinrin & Adefulu, along with Mr. Ola Olokolaro, who is the managing partner at ADVOCAAT and Mr. Tolu Aderemi, a partner at Perchstone & Greays.
True to its high billing, the second session of the Friday programme, which examined the role of the host (oil-producing) communities in the nation’s N/Delta region, elicited a lively discussion featuring a wide array of views. Chaired by an Associate Professor of the Faculty of Law, Unilag, Dr. Dayo Ayoade who is at the same time a petroleum, electricity, trade & energy law expert, the session also featured panel discussions by Mr. Clement Seweje (a non-executive director at Dubri Oil Company Ltd., and Ms. Ngozi Okonkwo, who is the chief legal officer at Oando Plc.
The third and closing session of the retreat went down memory lane, to the legal beginnings of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its eventful evolution, as well as a look forward at his prospects and what needs to be done to ensure sustainable growth. Chaired by A. U. Mustapha, SAN, the session featured a presentation by Mr. Bode Olanipekun, a managing partner at Wole Olanipekun & Co., who was the sole panelist present as Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye, the other designated panelist, was unavoidably absent.
A climax of the retreat was the drafting of the Retreat Communiqué as read out by the moderator, Dr. Austin Tam-George, at which all delegates affirmed, among other things, thus:
- that the letter and spirit of PIB legislation must be tailored towards increasing productivity, as well as deepen Nigeria’s reserve base, and sustain the environment;
- that Nigeria must take the global shift away from fossil fuels seriously and embrace renewable energy sources, even as she seeks to reform her oil and gas industry;
- that the preemptive powers of petroleum ministers must be properly redefined to guard against arbitrariness;
- that local (host) communities must take their destinies in their own hands as far as compensations and other forms of engagements are concerned, rather than look to their elected representatives or to company officials;
- that Nigeria needs to adopt best practices through bilateral treaties on the vast ranger of issues having to do with oil and gas reform;
- that labour laws at oil and gas companies domiciled in Nigeria must be strictly enforced – with particular reference to the enhancement of local content at managerial level; ending both the abuse of expatriate quotas and the lengthy casualisation of local staff;
- and that there is an urgent for greater capacity building in the enforcement of laws regulating the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
At the end of the retreat, delegates were unanimous in their belief that it had succeeded in setting a veritable agenda for prompt and effective by all stakeholders in ensuring the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (in all its relevant ramifications) and positioning the country’s petroleum industry for greater success in revamping the economic fortunes of Nigeria in the years ahead.
See photos below:
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