Nigeria lawmakers struggle to meet July deadline on oil reform


Nigerian lawmakers are racing to pass long-awaited legislation to reform the country’s petroleum industry before the current parliamentary session ends in mid-July.

First presented to the National Assembly in 2008, the law would overhaul how energy projects in Africa’s largest crude producer are operated and funded. Wrangling between politicians and objections from oil companies have scuppered previous versions of the Petroleum Industry Bill.

A joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives is “currently looking at the final draft of the bill,” said Benjamin Kalu, a lawmaker who is the spokesman for the lower chamber of parliament. Committee members aim to submit the bill to their colleagues for adoption before they go on summer vacation on July 16, he said. Lawmakers return from their break on Sept. 6.

Earlier this month, Royal Dutch Shell Plc urged President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the law as soon as possible, saying the delay was depriving Nigeria of much needed investment in the country’s most important economic sector. Lawmakers had planned to pass the bill this June, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said earlier this month.

“I’m optimistic that, at the rate we are working round the clock, the PIB will be passed before our annual recess,” said Ajibola Basiru, a lawmaker who is the spokesman of the Senate, Nigeria’s upper chamber of parliament.