By June, we expect marginal field awardees to begin drilling for oil — NUPRC

Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), says it is targeting June for marginal field awardees to begin the field development plan (FDP).

The plan includes all activities and processes required to optimally develop a field.

Komolafe, who spoke on ‘The Morning Show’ of the ARISE News Channel on Monday, noted that over 600 companies had applied to be pre-qualified for the bid rounds of 57 marginal fields, which began on June 1, 2020.

ALSO READ: Senate confirms Tonlagha, others for Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission

In May 2021, the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) completed the first successful bid programme.

The process, which commenced in 2020, had been bogged down by bureaucratic challenges, meaning that the actual drilling for oil has yet to effectively take off over a year after the awardees were officially handed award certificates.

Speaking on the issue of the 2020 marginal fields award, Komolafe said although the commission came into a difficult situation, it would resolve all issues by the first half of this year.

“It’s critical because one of our cardinal objectives is to ensure that we increase the national oil production, and of course, we realise that the fields will help in enhancing that,” the CEO said.

“We took the issue frontally. It’s really been very challenging to handle the issue in the sense that the model used poses serious challenges to bringing the matter to an end quickly.

“But I want to assure Nigerians and indeed the awardees that we have been able to, as I speak, tried to bring the issue to a manageable state and devise a strategy for bringing the challenge to a close.”

According to Komolafe, there has been over 80 per cent compliance in terms of payment.

“In fact, one of the challenges we’ve had is that even forming the SPVs, they are still having challenges working together because of the nature of the model used,” the NUPRC boss added.

“But by and large, I want to say that, we as a commission, we will learn from this experience, and I want to assure Nigeria that the next marginal bid will not be bogged down by these kinds of challenges we experienced in managing the fallout of the 2020 marginal field.”

“Before the first half of the year, we want to see a situation where some of the awardees will be proceeding to field development plan.

“At the moment again, we have recorded close to 90 per cent of the co-awardees forming their SPV, and at that stage, it is the very comfortable stage when the commission can go ahead to issue Petroleum Prospecting Licences (PPLs).”

About two months ago, NUPRC had said it would invite eligible reserve bidders for the 2020 marginal field bid round programme.

According to the commission, 33 companies had failed to pay the required signature bonuses for the 2020 marginal field bid round within the 45-day window.