By Momodou Jarju
Five stakeholders present in the ongoing consultation of the Petroleum Commission Bill, 2020, have on Wednesday raised scores of concerns about the aforementioned bill that they believed ought to be looked at to better polish the act for the greater good.
The stakeholders raised their concerns before a joint session of PEC/Environment, Sustainable Development and NGOs Affairs on the Review of the Petroleum Commission Bill, 2020 at the national assembly in Banjul.
The petroleum commission bill, 2020 was tabled sometime before the plenary where members debated on the principles and merits of the bill before it was committed to the business committee of the national assembly.
The business committee of the assembly then remitted the bill to a joint committee, comprising the Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) and Environment Committee of the national assembly.
The consultative meeting included the following agencies National Environment Agency, Gambia National Petroleum Commission, Geology Department and Department of Labour.
Malick Bah, Director Technical Services Network for NEA, raised their concern on page 7, (f) (1) under compliance with health safety, security and environmental standards in petroleum activities in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and agreement.
He said he observed that it should have stated too it ensured environmental and social impact assessment is conducted.
“I would recommend that we add to ensure environmental and social impact assessment is conducted as part of the instruments that should be looked into as well,” he said.
He also said under the same section paragraph (d), he did not see downstream where the provision gives the Commission “power to regulate upstream and midstream sectors in accordance with this act.”
Candy Jobe, Director of Exploration and Production from GNPC, said their main point of concern is on page 13 where the funds of the Commission are captured. She said it’s on part IV, financial provisions.
Madam Jobe said they noted that the funds of the Commission are the same as the funds that GNPC expects to derive its capital from in order to commercialise state participation in exploration production.
She explained that it is a trend that national oil corporations around the world in pre-production phase before discovery and commercialisation derive monies from the Government. Jobe said this funding generally comes from clause 1(b) where it stated monies paid to the Gambia Government come from signature bonus, training and resources funds etc.
Director Jobe also said in other countries, Governments put a levy on petroleum products or give fuel imputation monopolies. This she said enables cooperation because oil and gas activities are capital intensive and require huge capacity build up.
“So we have noted that the Commission intends to derive its funds from the same source as GNPC. In principle, we are not against this. However, we have a concern under (d) whereas we would note that under 1(b), monies paid to the Commission from signature bonus from licenses, from surface rental from licenses and money accrued from the sales and licenses of data. We believe this provision enable GNPC to have some sort of revenue sharing mechanism with the Commission.
Speaking further, Director Jobe said clause (d) is removed from subsection (a) where it stated training and resources funds which shall be administered by the Commission and managed by the ministry.
She said the section tends to be stating that all training and resources funds shall be handled by the Commission and GNPC shall not be able to lay a claim from the training and resources.
“We believe it should be a national oil corporation mandated to capacitise the nation as they indigenize oil and gas resources,” she noted.
She said they are also concerned where it is stated that it shall be managed by the ministry, which she said they noted is an anomaly. She said this is usually a purview of a national oil corporation or at best, a revenue sharing mechanism where they both share the funds.
“We suggest that the act stipulates that there shall be a revenue sharing policy or criteria that can be developed later, which would oversee the distribution of these resources,” she said.
Director of Legal and Investigations of NHRC, Mansour Jobe, said page 8, paragraph 8 that talks about local content participation is an important clause but it has not been adequately captured.
He said the ministry is given the discretion on the recommendation of the Commission to come up with regulations, thus he said there might not be any recommendation on local content participation which will negatively impact on the Gambian people whom the Commission is going to administer petroleum resources on their behalf.
“I am thinking that in addition to the express regulations that the minister may make… I am suggesting that we add another clause that is clause (c) to specifically indicate that the minister should also make regulation on local content and local participation,” he said.
To be continued…