Fifty-seven oil fields located onshore and swamps of the Niger Delta were yesterday handed over to local oil companies by the Federal Government, with a charge on them to quickly develop the fields and produce first oil.
Matrix Energy, Ardova Oil, Suntrust Oil, Energia Ltd and Mainland Oil were among the over 100 companies awarded Petroleum Prospecting Licence, PPL, and given at most six years to develop the fields and produce oil.
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With Nigeria producing an average of 1.2 million barrels oil per day, far short of the 2022 budget benchmark of 1.88 million barrels per day and 1.77 million per day OPEC quota, the Federal Government has stepped up efforts to boost the nation’s oil production.
Of the 57 fields, 41 fields have been fully paid for, with 37 PPLs issued.
Speaking at a ceremony in Abuja yesterday where the PPLs were presented to the companies, the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the decision to award the oil fields to the indigenous companies was a deliberate government policy to encourage more indigenous participation in petroleum operations.
“Indeed, this will boost activities in the oil and gas sector, add to our production output and create additional employment opportunities,” he stated.
Sylva explained that the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA, 2021 has abolished the marginal oil field policy making it possible to issue new owners with PPLs.
“As you are aware, the implementation of the PIA is in top gear. Consequently, the new awardees should note that their assets will be fully governed by the provisions of the PIA as a result each successful field will be issued a PPL in line with the PIA.
“This is a complete departure from what used to be there where the marginal field owners had no licences.
“This marks the beginning of a new era for us in the oil and gas sector and urges the awardees of the PPL to take advantage of the opportunities presented to exploit, develop and bring the assets to productive use”.
The Minister who also officially unveiled the Host Communities Development Regulations, urged the companies to conduct their operations in an environmentally friendly manner and also ensure that host communities were taken care of.
Earlier, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe said the new 57 licenses bring to 87 the number of marginal fields so far awarded in the country.
“Historically, the marginal fields award initiative began in 1999 and was borne out of the need to entrench the indigenization policy of the Government in the Upstream sector of the oil and gas industry and build local content capacity.
“Besides, the initiative was also targeted at creating employment opportunities and encouraging increased capital inflow to the sector.
“Nigeria is known as an oil-producing country and it is best for us to take advantage of what the oil price is currently doing. We are very satisfied with the entire process since it started in 2020,” he added.