The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, has said the Agency did not breach any laid down guidelines in the award of 55 marginal oil fields to indigenous oil companies.
The Head of Public Affairs and Media Relations of the Commission, Oliade Shonola, in a statement explained that reports that the fields were awarded to unqualified companies were inaccurate and misleading.
Shonola, explained further that “the 2020 marginal field bid exercise was started by the now defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) following Presidential Approval obtained to conduct the exercise. The bid exercise was launched on June 1, 2020, and a total of 57 Marginal fields were made available for bidding through a transparent online electronic bidding system.
“Of the number of companies that indicated interest in the bid exercise by submitting their applications within the deadline set for that purpose, 540 companies were pre-qualified in line with the procedure set out in the Bid Guidelines. Ultimately, 482 out of the 540 companies pre-qualified submitted bids for the various fields on offer.
“At the end of the exercise and in line with existing government policy to encourage as many qualified Nigerian companies to participate in the upstream business, 161 entities from the 482 pre-qualified bids were offered marginal fields and given a deadline to make signature bonus payments. A number of these entities were offered fields on a joint basis. The Commission, upon inception, had to embark on extensive stakeholder engagements with the successful bidders to resolve the many issues arising from the policy of jointly awarding some of the fields to several awardees. These engagements were held in both Lagos and Abuja.
“In the event where those offered fields in the exercise were unable to fulfil their obligation to pay the signature bonus within the time frame specified, the Commission sought and obtained the approval of The Presidency to re-award those not paid for to other entities who participated in the bid exercise but who were not offered any fields during the initial stage.
These later awards were premised on the condition that considered companies present clear evidence of both financial and technical capability.
“At the end of the exercise, a total of 55 fields were successfully awarded and paid for.
“Other than the provisional award letters issued to qualified bidders (which contain the terms and conditions of the award including the signature bonus payable), in all cases, final letters of the award were only issued upon payment of 100 per cent of the signature bonus by or on behalf of the awardee”.
The Commission added “It is worth restating that as a regulatory body governed by laws under the Petroleum Industry Act of 2021, the Commission neither awarded marginal fields to entities that did not participate in the 2020 marginal bid round nor awarded a field to any company that did not meet the obligation of paying the statutory signature bonus.
“As the upstream oil and gas regulator, the NUPRC will remain transparent and predictable in its mandate to reposition the upstream sector of our economy to attract credible investors for the shared prosperity of the nation”.