In a bid to placate the opposition against the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Alison-Madueke on Tuesday, said the Bill would reduce the powers of the minister over seeing the oil sector.

She also said the Bill will see to the unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Petroleum minister stated this at the National Assembly when she led a high-powered lobby delegation to interface with Senators over the contentious Bill.

The Bill was killed in the life of the 6th senate following complications over various versions of the Bill which flooded the National Assembly.

In this Senate, however, the Bill has been faced with stiff rejection by the Northern Senators, who complained of a provision in the Bill seeking to give additional 10 percent allocation of oil proceeds to oils states which the Northern senators consider unfair in the face of the lopsided allocation against the North.

Still, to underscore the importance of the meeting, it was initially slated to be with the Senate leadership but it was changed, in a last minute decision, to be an all inclusive parley with all 109 Senators, a meeting the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu named “technical briefing on the PIB to clear areas of doubt”.

Making her presentation, the petroleum minister said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be unbundled to unveil a world-class National Oil Company (NOC) in the guise of the Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia).

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Alison-Madueke said this PIB if passed into law would reduced the powers of the minister.

She said “You can check the law, there is no legislation that gives the petroleum minister as much powers like the current petroleum Act. The current petroleum Act gives the current petroleum minister which happens to be myself more powers than any other bill can possibly give. In drafting the PIB which I was personally involved, we ensured that control was actually divested away from the minister and the federal government. If you take an entity like the NNPC and unbundle it, that takes away a large portion of the ministers power.

“As minister, I represent the president’s delegated powers. There is no time that the president of this country has allowed that much control over our national oil and gas sector is divested. I think we should actually congratulate the President.” Alison-Madueke said.

Speaking on the section of the Bill which seeks to grant 10 percent to oil states, Alison-Madueke said the that proposal was not new.

That section of the PIB actually seeks to grant a 10 per cent equity advantage to oil-bearing communities from the net profit of oil companies operating in the areas.

Part G, Sections 116-118 in the PIB provide for the establishment of a special fund to be known as the ‘Petroleum Host Communities Fund which shall be utilised for the development of the economic and social infrastructure of the communities within the petroleum producing area. The section has faced bipartisan opposition from some interest (mostly northern) who insist that the draft legislation seeks to empower only the oil-producing states.

Earlier, Ekweremadu emphasised that the Senate intends to pass the PIB this year, provided there is corporation between the ministry and relevant Senate committees handling the PIB, so that a new legal regime for Nigeria’s oil sector which will in turn serve the interest of the country would emerge.