Nigeria would privatise NNPC, amend royalties under draft oil reform bill


By Libby George

LAGOS, Sept 28 (Reuters)Nigeria’s long-awaited oil reform bill would privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), amend changes to deepwater royalties made late last year and scrap key regulatory agencies in favour 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 it before it can become law. Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude exporter. L5N2GJ6E7

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 turning the NNPC into 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 for offshore fields producing less than 15,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7.5% from 10%.

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

(Reporting by Libby George; editing by Catherine Evans and Jason Neely)

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