Nigerian oil bill delay hurting investment -President

Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:18pm EST

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* Says new companies deterred by legal uncertainty

* Bill was sent to parliament in August

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said investment in the country's oil industry was falling because of delays to its landmark energy bill.

The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) - designed to cover everything from tax terms to reform of the state oil company and funds for communities living on oil fields - was presented to the parliament in August and is still being discussed.

"Concluding the PIB is critical, and without concluding it, investment will drop. It's already dropping. No new investors are coming in," Jonathan said on the sidelines of a conference on Nigerian agriculture in Geneva on Tuesday.

Oil executives have privately complained for years that uncertainty about the legal framework in Africa's biggest oil producer was delaying investment, but Jonathan's remarks represented a rare admission from the government.

The PIB has been held up for years, preventing Africa's top oil exporter from holding a new major licensing round.

Analysts say that passage of the PIB would offer a boost to Jonathan's reputation and provide assurances for investors in the OPEC member country.

But Jonathan said on Tuesday that there was no way to expedite the legislative process.

"The PIB has moved into the Parliament. I have no controlling say on the Parliament. We have done our own part," he said.

"I would be misleading you if I said in a month, three months, six months the PIB will get through."

Nigeria exports more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) and also holds the world's ninth largest gas reserves. (editing by Jane Baird)

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