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Nigeria to renew oil blocks’ licences in Q1, says Kachikwu

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Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has announced that all oil blocks that are due for renewal would be approved by the first quarter of the year.

He said the plan follows the early renewal policy that was instituted by the current administration.

Though extant regulations stipulated that operators apply six months ahead, Kachikwu disclosed that over $2 billion has already been generated from the renewal to enable the country finance its budget.

Speaking exclusively to The Guardian in Abuja, the minister said President Muhammad Buhari, who doubles as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, may not be interested in awarding new oil blocks.

This, he, said was due to the inability of some operators to develop over 50 per cent of blocks, particularly marginal fields.

“We have actually asked for early renewals, because we needed to get money out of it to help finance the budget and from that process, we have actually gotten about $2 billion.

“I put a policy of early renewals in place so that even blocks that are not due for renewal before 2019 are being renewed right now,” he said.

Expressing dissatisfaction over operators’ inability to develop their fields, Kachikwu said the federal government is currently working on modalities that would set a deadline for the development of all fields, particularly marginal fields.

With Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), indicating that the country has about 200 oil fields categorised as marginal, only a handful of the fields are productive because the operators reportedly lack technical and financial capabilities to maintain them.

Though only about 30 of the fields, expected to add an about 300 million barrels of crude were granted licenses by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Kachikwu stressed that about 40 others, as well as mega fields suggested to the president were awaiting approval.

He said: “We are doing analysis on what these people can bring to bear on the time limit between which you must develop the block that you asked for. If you can’t, lets somebody else get into it, and try and create a joint venture to find funding.

“But just holding to a block is depriving the government, state and even the investor money and it does not make any sense.

On the continuous delay in the awards of new oil blocks in the country, Kachikwu noted that the inability to develop existing blocks could continue to slow down decision.

Kachikwu revealed that the president is not the one interested in giving out blocks for political favoritism. Also, that is one area where there is very wide ministerial discretion of presidents in the past.


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