The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum and Regulatory Commission has said the Federal Government is planning to revoke unused oil exploration leases that companies were granted but have not been able to carry out any exploration activities on them.
The Chief Executive Officer, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe told Reuters on Monday that only companies with viable technical and financial backup would get to keep their leases
“Based on PIA (Petroleum Industry Act), the commission is focused on delivering value for the nation so only firms that are technically and financially viable will keep their leases,” Komolafe said.
Komolafe said the commission would initiate reviews of these leases and awards of new leases would be “subject to specific terms and conditions.”
According to the latest data from the NUPRC, although about 53 exploration leases were issued from 2003 till date; over 60 percent of the prospecting licenses issued to local and foreign oil firms have expired.
Out of the 53 licenses, 33 have since expired and not been renewed, including four that are held down by contract disputes. The leases have not been automatically revoked, but the regulator is no longer willing to let the companies hold on to leases indefinitely.
The PIA enacted in 2021 empowered the regulator to review the technical and financial capabilities of companies holding oil exploration leases.
Investments in oil exploration in the country have been few and far between as oil majors exit onshore and shallow water assets due to rising insecurity and sabotage of oil infrastructure and legal disputes with communities in the Niger Delta.
The sector has since been bogged down by low investments in exploration activities, coupled with low crude oil production as a result of theft from pipeline vandalism.
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