LAGOS – Nigeria aims to award marginal oilfield licenses by the end of March and will allow companies to pay signature bonuses in naira, the director of the petroleum regulator said on Saturday.
Sarki Auwalu, head of the Department of Petroleum Resources, told Arise News that he expected Nigeria to net $500 million from the signature bonuses on the fields.
Marginal fields are smaller oil blocks that are typically developed by indigenous companies. The new licensing round, launched in June, is the first marginal field round since 2002.
Of the 24 fields awarded then, only 13 are producing, invoking criticism that some companies that won were not equipped to develop them.
The government revoked the 11 non-producing licenses, though there are ongoing legal challenges.
Auwalu said DPR had narrowed the list of bidders to 161 and aimed to conclude the process by the end of the first quarter. Once signature bonuses are paid, he said DPR would “bring the companies together” and enable them to enter the fields.
He also said this marks the first time Nigeria will allow companies to pay oilfield acquisition costs in naira. The oil price crash of the past year has squeezed the availability of U.S. dollars, making it difficult for companies to procure them.
“A lot of companies now are happier, he said.
A total of 57 fields located on land, swamp and shallow offshore waters are included in the bid round.