In some circumstances, the indigenous preference provisions in the Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act 2010 may disadvantage the Nigerian economy as a whole and its oil and gas sector in particular. Notably, there is no law forbidding or penalising the acquisition of majority stakes in Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production companies which qualify as Nigerian companies by foreign companies. In some circumstances, such acquisitions should even be encouraged.
One of the unstated objectives of the Petroleum Industry Bill 2020 is to clarify the law and practice of ministerial consent for assignments of interest in upstream oil and gas licences and leases. This article addresses the extent to which it can be said that this objective has been achieved.
The enactment of the latest iteration of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will result in a separation of the regulatory, policy and commercial functions of the minister of petroleum resources. While the minister's influence may be perceived to have diminished under the PIB, this may not be the reality when all of the circumstances are taken into consideration.