Nigeria Still Open to Oil Law Changes

LAGOS (AFP), Apr. 15, 2010

Nigerian authorities are still open to suggestions from international majors on a proposed law to reform the oil sector, the new boss of the state oil firm said Thursday.

"The door isn't yet closed...there still some grey areas that need our attention," Shehu Ladan, the new managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., said.

In his first public address since taking office a week ago, Ladan told an oil and gas meeting in the commercial capital that government will meet oil majors in coming days to thrash out the sticking points in the Petroleum Industry Bill.

Nigeria is proposing a new law to provide for sweeping reforms in the oil and gas sector. Oil majors have slammed the bill saying it is fraught with mistakes which, if passed into law, will take years to correct and see a capital flight of around $50 billion in potential deepwater projects investment.

"In the next couple of days we will be able to sit down with all the major oil companies and iron out finally those aspects of the bill that they have problems with," he said. "There is no love lost between the two of us. I am sure there will be a lot of accommodation."

The bill is still before the national assembly where 56 changes suggested by the oil companies were being taken into account.

When passed by the parliament, it will specifically transform the corruption-ridden and loss-making NNPC into a purely commercial outfit.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan last week sacked Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, at the helm of NNPC for just over a year, and replaced him with Ladan, whose task is to transform the NNPC into a "global brand and player" said Jonathan's office.

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