Owners of petroleum products hauling companies under the aegis of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) have said gaps exist in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that must be fixed before passage by the National Assembly.
The National Assembly had last week passed the much await PIB, which intend to address critical loopholes in the nation’s oil and gas industry.
But NARTO in a press statement signed by its national president Yusuf Othman said the bill promotes monopoly against level playing field in the downstream section of the oil and gas sector.
The group also demand inclusion in the board of the regulatory commission, expected to be created through the bill.
Although the bill abolished price fixing for petroleum product, an indication for full deregulation, it makes it illegal for most marketers to import petroleum products, including already deregulated products, especially PMS, diesel, aviation fuel, lubricants and base oil unless they have licence for a refinery.
Othman said restriction of license to import refined petroleum products to a small number of local refiners provided for in the bill would lead to inefficiency and corruption,
Noting that the haulage sector has always suffered in terms of scarcity of products and limited access to loading locations, Othman said: “We are seriously taken aback by the provision in the bill restricting importation license to only local refiners.”
He said instead of limited the import to only a few, all hands should be put on deck to ensure that the PIB does not monopolies the importation of PMS as currently provided in the bill.
Othman stated that since the PIB is expected to ensure competition in the downstream oil and gas industry, provision to the contrary would make waste of all our collective efforts in that regard.
He said further that the composition of the board membership of the Industry regulator expected to be created by the new bill will be transparent and fair if the association is considered on the board.
“There is no denying the fact that Transporters play very pivotal roles in the effective and efficient distribution of Petroleum products accross the country and their experience and expertise can never be over emphasised. It is in the light of this that we call for our Inclusion in the boards of the industry regulator(s) most especially in the downstream sector of the industry as it will further strengthened in ensuring effective and effecient distribution of petroleum products across the nation,” he noted.
With huge investment in the haulage business, Othman said it remained critical for the PIB to provide adequate encouragement and incentives to IOCs and indigenous oil producers to invest in the refining sector of the oil and gas industry.
“We strongly believe that such incentives will help in bringing in the much-needed investments in domestic refining.
“As the two Chambers of the National Assembly meet to harmonise their positions, we earnestly plead that these issues be taken on board as they would further enhance the possibility of harnessing the full benefits and potentials of the bill to enable it meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians,” Othman noted.
He pledged the group’s support for the bill, stressing the need to accord the document accelerated assent by the president.