The Federal Government has announced the opening of the second marginal oil field licensing round, promising transparency and accountability in the process.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who declared the bid round open at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, said it was aimed at deepening the participation of indigenous oil companies in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
This, she said, was also aimed at generally increasing exploration and production activities in the oil and gas sector.
Giving details of the licensing round, Alison-Madueke stated that a total of 31 fields were on offer with 16 of them located onshore, while the remaining 15 were in the continental shelf.
She said the Federal Government was committed to transparency in the bid process and would encourage companies interested in the assets to form a consortia that would enable them to leverage upon each other’s strengths.
She said, “Over the next two weeks, the Department of Petroleum Resources will undertake a road show in different parts of the country about the programme. This will be followed by a three-and-a-half months of competitive bidding process in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to openness and transparency in the conduct of business activities in the country.”
Giving an update on the last marginal fields bid round, which held in 2001, the minister stated that of the 24 fields that were allocated to 31 indigenous oil companies in that exercise, eight were already producing while the others were at various stages of development.
Alison-Madueke noted that the marginal field operators, currently accounting for about one per cent of the nation’s production, had also recorded huge discoveries in excess of 100 million barrels to the nation’s reserve base.
She added that of the eight assets that had so far been divested by the international oil companies, at least four were held by active marginal field operators, who had continued to demonstrate a remarkable technical ability in operating significantly larger assets.
Alison-Madueke said, “In their operations, the companies have addressed corporate social responsibility as a critical element, by providing for stakeholder participation as part of their success factors. In addition, their development strategy is in line with the nation’s gas flare policy and global environmental guidelines on green house emissions, by ensuring full utilisation of their associated gas. Indeed, one of them has established a modular refinery for diesel production, which is the first of its kind in the country.”
According to the minister, the Federal Government is encouraged by the modest achievements of the marginal field operators in line with the objectives of the local content policy to kick off the marginal field licensing round.
On the proposed sale of the refineries, Alison-Madueke reiterated the government’s stance to move away from managing major infrastructure, adding that the government was going ahead with the original plan to rehabilitate the refineries to be able to get a premium price from their sale.
The minister maintained that adequate room had been made in the privatisation time-table for engagement with all stakeholders to resolve all labour issues to ensure a win-win situation for all.