By Bassey Udo
The take-off of the newly enacted Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) means the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) have all ceased to exist officially, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timi Sylva, said in Abuja.
DPR was the agency that was the monitoring and regulatory agency in charge of the petroleum industry until the recent passage of the PIA.
The PPPRA was the agency in charge of monitoring and regulation of petroleum products pricing in the country, while the PEF was responsible for ensuring petroleum products were distributed at the same price across all parts of the country.
But, at the the inauguration of the boards of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission in Abuja on Monday, Sylva the commencement of the implementation of the PIA meant the three agencies have been scrapped, and their their chief executive officers relieved of their appointments.
The Minister explained that the inauguration of the two boards on marked the beginning of the successor agencies under the new petroleum industry regulated and administered by the PIA.
He however assured the workers of these agencies that they would enjoy the benefit of protection by the law.
The Minister said the passage of the PIA meant the NPRA and NURC had taken over the functions of the DPR, PPPRA and PEF under the new dispensation in the petroleum industry.
“The fate of DPR is now a matter of law, which states that all assets and even the staff of the DPR are to be vested on the (NURC) Commission and also in the authority. So that means the DPR doesn’t exist anymore,” the minister said.
“Of course, the law specifically repeals the DPR Act, the Petroleum Inspectorate Act, the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Act and the PPPRA Act. It is very clear that those agencies do not exist anymore,” he added.
On the fate of the chief executives and employees of those agencies, Sylva said the provisions of the law protect the staff and their jobs in those agencies.
He clarified that the provisions of the law do not cover their chief executives, who were on political appointments.
The process for aligning the workers of the defunct agencies with the new regulatory bodies and their functions under the PIA regime had already commenced with the staff rationalization exercise.
The petroleum industry regulatory authority, the Minister said, has its staff coming from the defunct DPR, PPPRA and PEF, while Commission would have its staff transferred from DPR.
The staff rationalization process, he announced, would last for the next few weeks.
“The PIA provides for the upstream regulatory Commission and the establishment of the midstream and downstream authority,
“The chief executives of these agencies were appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari few weeks ago before they went through a rigorous process of confirmation at the National Assembly, with their inauguration marking the beginning for the new agencies.”
With the passage of the PIA into law with its assent by the President following its approval by the National Assembly after over 20 years of legislative process, the Minister said the Nigerian oil industry is now fully ready for fresh investors.
“Today, the PIA has clarified the legal framework around the sector and the agencies are now in place. So, I don’t see anything now stopping investors from coming,” the minister stated.
He said the CEOs of the various agenies were competent professionals carefully selected to handle the business of the industry to achieve the aspirations of all Nigerians.
“Nigerians should brace up for exponential growth in the oil and gas sector,” the Minister said.
The Chief Executive, NURC, Gbenga Komolafe, said the Commission would deliver on its mandate as captured in the new petroleum Act, assuring that Nigerians should expect massive deliverables in the sense that the PIA has ended the regime of uncertainty in terms of the governance of the industry.
Komolafe said the Commission would ensure the country achieved its Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota in crude oil production, as the NURC would be an enabler of new investments.