Nigeria invites bids for 12 new oil blocks, promises fair process

Nigeria is inviting bids from international investors with financial and technical capacity for 12 onshore and deepwater oil blocks, its oil regulator said in a speech yesterday at a global oil conference in Houston, Texas.Africa’s biggest oil producer opened this year’s licensing round on April 29 seeking to deepen exploitation of the country’s estimated 37.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 209.26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

“Nigeria is committed to conducting the licensing round in a fair, competitive and transparent manner and ensuring a level playing field for both indigenous and international investors,” said Gbenga Komolafe, head of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).Some investors have balked at participating in previous bids due to a lack of transparency in the award process leading to companies without the capacity to drill winning oil fields.This eventually led to threats to cancel the awards.

Komolafe said in addition to these blocks, the seven deep offshore blocks from the 2022 mini-bid round exercise shall also be concluded along with this licensing round.

This will bring a total of 19 oil blocks offered to investors in 2024.Apart from technical and commercial ability, the regulator said it would pay attention to how the bidders plan to align with the country’s net-zero carbon emissions targets, eliminate gas flares and avoid polluting rivers and farmlands.

Nigeria, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has seen its oil production decline from around 2 million barrels a decade ago to just over 1.3 million barrels per day.Oil majors are leaving onshore fields prone to sabotage and frequent claims to compensation for spills to focus on deepwater fields where disruptions are less common.