The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed into law a bill for the amendment of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, NLNG, (Fiscal incentive, Guarantees and Assurances) Act.
The bill seeks to enforce a statutory contribution of three percent of the annual budget of NLNG to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) fund.
It also contained various penalties for stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, who act against the interest of the NLNG or the oil-producing states in the Niger Delta.
Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, the sponsor of the bill, said the Bill seeks to prevent total degradation of the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region.
“The only way we can solve this problem is to bring relevant amendments to it, because our people have suffered so much and I said that it’s very important that we appreciate the enormity of the danger present in the region for us to act quickly and as a people hold the NLNG responsible for unnecessary gas-flaring using this amendment.”
Those objecting to the bill argued that if allowed, it would stifle investment in the oil and gas sector.
Leading the opposition to the Bill is the NLNG itself which described passage of the bill as an action against the national interest, saying the direct consequence would be to project Nigeria as a sovereign-state promise breaker and an unsuitable destination for investments.
The General Manager, External Relations of NLNG, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, in a statement, said the amendment violates the assurances and guarantees granted to huge international investors that their investments would be protected.
Tony Attah, Managing Director of NLNG, said the bill would affect ease of doing business and efforts to bring foreign-direct investments to Nigeria.
Attah reiterated that NLNG does not look for or extract gas from the ground. He said that the company, like any manufacturing, petrochemical or refining firm, uses gas as feedstock, which it proceeds to clean and cool for sale.
NLNG from its establishment has continued to pay applicable taxes, levies and charges to local, state and federal tiers of government amounting to well over $5.5 billion, he said.
“This is beside about $15 billion already paid in dividends to the federal government through the NNPC. In addition, we operate a robust corporate social responsibility programme, considered to a model by the rest of the oil and gas industry. The programme has cost about $200 million to date and extends to areas including business and human capacity development and infrastructure development in our primary areas of operation and across Nigeria,” he said.
The bill would be forwarded to the Senate soon for concurrence.