Nigeria to conduct licensing round for oil blocks this year
• Insists passage of PIB feasible by May
• May hand over refineries to private managers
The Federal Government has said that arrangements are being concluded for oil and gas bid round this year. Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylvia, stated that government would conduct smaller bid round for marginal fields and thereafter focus on a major bid.
Though unrealistic deadlines have been set for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) initiated decades ago, Sylva insisted that the PIB, which would facilitate the bid round, would be passed before May this year.
He decried that instead of progressing the nation’s only sector was moving backward, as the country’s oil production level moved back to about 1.7 million barrels per day, failing to continuously meet projection.
Sylva said one of the the mandates of the current administration was to develop the oil and gas industry, while making the masses benefits from the sector, particularly through affordable and sustainable products.
He said the approach of the current administration towards addressing the nation’s moribund refineries would be to rehabilitate and cut off government’s involvement, allowing private owners to manage it for profitability and efficiency.
“The petroleum industry has not moved very fast for some time now. In few years, we were producing over two million barrels per day. We had the projection to move production to three million barrels per day and to four million barrels.
“At that time, United Arab Emirates (UAE) was producing 2.7 million barrels per day. Today, the UAE has moved to four million barrels per day. We would have been very lucky, if we were stagnant; but we have gone backwards. Today, we are producing according to Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota of 1.774 billion barrels per day,” the minister said.
He urged Nigerians to get involved, ensuring that the bill was passed to address the business environment in the sector.“We are aiming at conducting bid round for marginal fields to ensure settlement in the upcoming PIB. It is therefore highly desirable that the bill is passed before any bid round. We will aim at the marginal fields round earlier and a major bid round after the passage of the bill,” Sylva added.
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