Govt pledges stable gas supply to power plants
THE National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday met at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, mandating the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to assess the Nigeria’s oil imports and exports and establish a reliable system for accurate data generation so as to accurately compute the actual amount of subsidy on oil.
The Council is the statutory umbrella body of the nation’s governors and the Federal Government economic team and headed by the Vice President.
The Council also tasked the Minister and other organs of the Executive branch to present a roadmap on the conclusion and finalisation of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
This, it said, was geared towards presenting a final report to President Goodluck Jonathan, which will facilitate sending the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the National Assembly as a matter of urgency.
Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, told journalists at the end of the Council deliberations that it also endorsed the recommendation of the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru that the state governors and deputy governors will now pay tax on their official emoluments.
Meanwhile, shortage of gas being experienced by power plants and private firms in the country will soon be over with the near completion of gas pipelines across the country.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Group Executive Director, Gas and Power, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), David Ige, adding that with the measures being put in place that they would stabilise gas to power plants in the next four to six weeks.
According to Akpabio, who briefed reporters along with the Minister of National Planning, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, “the NEC also discussed the issue of benchmark price. We had a presentation from the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and of course after a lot of explanation and questions, the NEC accepted the explanation for the benchmark of $72 per barrel of crude oil as a major component of the 2012 budget.
“We also discussed the issue of excess crude account and the governors had gone to court against the Federal Government on this issue and the court had advised that we take the matter out of the court for settlement. In this case, the NEC accepted the advice of the court and accordingly a committee was set up to discuss the out-of-court settlement. The NEC mandated Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, the AGF, National Planning Minister and the CBN governor to sit with the representatives of the Governors’ Forum to ensure the matter is amicably settled out-of-court.”
On the PIB, “it looked like the lack of passage of the PIB could stall investment in the oil sector and we look at the fact that the monthly oil production were dwindling for various reasons. Council advised that the Minister of Petroleum should present a road map on the conclusion and finalisation of the PIB working with the relevant organs of the Executive and to present a final report to Mr. President, which will assist Mr President in sending a bill urgently to National Assembly.
“On bunkering, “the Council also discussed the issue of the dwindling oil revenue and of course this is traceable to the issue of output and we thought one of the major impediments top the amount of crude we export is the issue of bunkering. It is the view of NEC that state governments should try to establish laws to protect the environment. They should find means and ways of establishing laws, which also means that as bunkers are damaging the environment, they could also be brought to book through criminal charges. At the same time, we are calling on Federal Government to send a Bill to National Assembly that will bring very stringent action against bunkers. It is important to bring the issue of bunkering to an end and that can only be done if a proper law is passed by National Assembly that criminalises oil bunkering so that people could be deterred from going into it.”
The council also called for the strengthening of laws against oil bunkering to save the nation from the concomitant massive revenue loss, which has been put at over $1 Billion monthly and resulting in environmental pollution.
“It also urged the states to establish laws towards severely punishing those responsible for the damages to the environment arising from oil bunkering and other criminal activities.”
On the issue of new Personal Income Tax, “the Council discussed the following recommendations:
• To work with the state governors and deputy governors to now pay tax on the official emolument;
• That the new personal income tax regime will improve revenue generation and hold significant potentials for growing state revenue above what is obtainable now.”
Addressing reporters, after a facility tour of the Chanomi Creek Gas Project, Warri, being executed by an indigenous firm, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Ige noted that gas supply from Chevron Escravos has increased to about 80 million cubic feet per day (mcfpd), which cannot be used on the pipelines because its already on full capacity.
He added that as part of the expansion programme of the Escravos- Lagos pipeline, government was doubling the entire capacity of the pipeline all the way to Lagos.
He stressed that the critical segment of Escravos to Warri was also being put in place and may be completed in the next two to three weeks.
According to him: “We went to Olorunsogo Power plant on Wednesday which is one of the major pipeline in Nigeria, and has two power plants, it is nearing completion “On the prospects made on the pipeline, all aspects of it has been completed, as they are now working on three key areas like the railway crossings, which will be completed in the next 72 hours.
“We are very confident and extremely pleased with the progress so far made as we believe that within four weeks from now, the project will be completed. With this pipeline, we will have put in place permanent solution to the challenge of gas supply to Olorunsogo, which will increase capacity generation by about 400 mega watts (MW).
He stated that NNPC has also completed the pipeline between Oben and Geregu, adding that “we are not just addressing the power problem but also addressing broader gas industrialisation issues.”