Nigeria’s Oil Reform Could See NNPC Privatized, Deepwater Royalties Amended

Libby George

September 28, 2020

Illustration only - An FPSO offshore Nigeria- Credit: David Maxfield/MarineTraffic

Illustration only – An FPSO offshore Nigeria- Credit: David Maxfield/MarineTraffic

Nigeria’s long-awaited oil reform bill would privatize the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), amend changes to deepwater royalties made late last year and scrap key regulatory agencies in favor of new bodies, a copy of the bill seen by Reuters showed.

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent the bill to the Senate, two sources told Reuters. It, along with the House of Representatives, must sign off on the bill before it can become law. Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude exporter.

A spokesman for Buhari declined to comment.

The legislation has been in the works for the past 20 years and looks to revise laws governing Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration not fully updated since the 1960s because of the contentious nature of any change to oil taxes, terms and revenue-sharing.

The bill proposes creating a limited liability corporation into which the ministers of finance and petroleum would transfer NNPC assets.

The government would then pay cash for shares of the company and it would operate as a commercial entity without access to state funds.

The changes would in theory make it easier for the struggling company to raise funds.

The legislation would also amend controversial changes to deep offshore royalties made late last year by cutting the royalty that companies pay the government for offshore fields producing less than 15,000 barrels per day to 7.5% from 10%.

It would change a price-based royalty too, so that it kicked in when oil prices climbed above $50 per barrel, rather than $35.

The measure would also scrap the Petroleum Equalisation Fund, which used to distribute cash to keep nationwide petrol prices uniform, and transfer remaining money to a midstream gas infrastructure fund.

In addition, it would create new regulatory bodies, scrapping the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and transferring to a new commission many of the tasks currently handled by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR). 

(Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)