SSNA Ascends Petroleum Bill To Third Reading

The South Sudan National Assembly (SSNA) has passed the South Sudan Petroleum Bill 2012 into its third reading after undergoing deliberations.

SSNA Ascends Petroleum Bill To Third Reading
The South Sudan National Assembly [©Gurtong/ Waakhe S. Wudu]

By Waakhe Simon Wudu
JUBA, 4th April 2012 [Gurtong]

The bill presented by the Committee's Head of Energy, Mining and Industry, Hon. Henry Dilah Odwar underwent critical debate on issues that appeared sensitive with MPs raising eyebrows yesterday.

Main issues of concern that prolonged debate includes; how the bill addresses transparency in the petroleum sector, management of any information related to the oil exploration in the country and environmental management by all companies involved.

Section 11(3) (I) of the bill states that; “Make available to the public both on the Ministry website and by any other appropriate means to inform interested persons in the following areas;
1. All key oil sector production,
2. Revenue and expenditure data,
3. Petroleum agreements and licenses,
4. Regulations and procedures related to the petroleum sector.

This article which appears to maintain transparency received a wider criticism by many MPs who argued that; not all institutions can be allowed to access the information about the oil sector as spelled above, it will put the country into a state of misunderstanding.

MPs resolved that, with the exception of the National Assembly, any authority in need of related information in the oil sector from the government should be cleared by the Information Ministry first.

“The bill has to specify what type of information should be published on website. It will be very destructive when used by enemies,” Hon. Justin J. Marona from Western Equatoria State said.

“Information is power. If you use it anyhow it will be detrimental to you,” Prof. George Bureng, an SPLM member from Central Equatoria State reacted.

They also debated on awards of oil blocks to the oil companies which appear controversially specified in the bill. They demanded that the bill should clearly articulate this part.

MPs also raised concerns over the percentage of shares distributed to the States and communities where oil is discovered and explored. The bill indicates that, these States and communities where oil is being produced should be allocated 3% and 2% of the net petroleum revenue respectively.

Hon Marona explained that, that the Petroleum Bill creates a legal framework for the exploitation of the country’s oil and thus called MPs to put more efforts in ensuring that it is well structured.

After a two hour deliberation, the August House passed a motion terminating the debate and ascended it into its third reading. Hon. Daniel Awet, the Deputy Speaker chairing the sitting urged the committee to present the bill for its final deliberations next week.

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