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Nigeria to offer new oil blocs in a fresh deep offshore mini-bid round

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The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has announced the start of the 2022 deep offshore mini-bid round, promising a transparent and competitive process.

The commission said that the development presents an opportunity to spur new exploration and drilling activities in the prospective deep waters offshore Nigeria, according to a statement signed by its Chief Executive, Gbenga Komolafe.

“On behalf of the federal government of Nigeria, the NUPRC is pleased to announce the commencement of the 2022 mini-bid round. The mini-bid round is an opportunity to spur new exploration and drilling activities in the prospective deep waters offshore Nigeria,” Komolafe said.

The round, he said, was aimed at further developing deep offshore acreages in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021, with its enhanced legal and regulatory frameworks that seek to encourage new investors and investments in the next phase of exploration.

He said the statutory body responsible for ensuring compliance with petroleum laws, regulations, and guidelines in the Nigerian upstream petroleum industry, would manage the bid process in accordance with the provisions of the PIA.

Komolafe also stated that the NUPRC’s National Data Repository (NDR) and its multi-client partners were delighted and ready to support the exercise, which would be supported by high-quality datasets.

“The blocks have extensive 2D and 3D seismic data coverage, including multi-beam and analogue data. Additionally, a remarkable quality, 3D MegaSurveyPlus reprocessed Pre-stack Time Migration (completed October 2022), with angle stacks and gathers is also available to prospective bidders. Links to all data can be accessed via the dedicated NUPRC portal,” he added.

The mini-bid round, he said, was a market-driven program that would follow a transparent and competitive procurement process designed to attract competent third-party investors from around the world who have the capability and proficiency to operate in deepwater environments.

Historically, Komolafe stated that the exercise intends to build on the successes of the previous bid round, which took place in April 2007 and included 45 blocks drawn from the inland basins of Anambra, Benue, and Chad; the Niger Delta Continental Shelf; Onshore Niger Delta, and Deep Offshore.

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He pointed out that the 2007 bid round was held under a different regulatory regime (the Petroleum Act of 1969) and generated massive interest and participation with its attended revenue, making the exercise a success.

“In this 2022 mini-bid round, seven offshore blocks covering an area of approximately 6,700 sq km in water depths of 1,150m to 3,100m were put on offer.

“The success of the mini-bid round will ensure all stakeholders gain value from the country’s resources, whilst paying close attention to reduction in carbon emissions, as well as overall environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations,” he said.

He recalled that the NUPRC had published a dedicated program portal that details the bid round process, including registration and prequalification requirements, as well as detailed guidelines for applicants.

Komolafe also stated that the pre-bid conference was scheduled for January 16, 2023, to allow potential applicants to ask any questions they may have about the process and requirements.

Following that, he stated that interested companies would be invited to submit pre-qualification applications by January 31, 2023, assuring that the NUPRC would provide additional details and a roadmap for the international competitive bid in due course.

Previously, it was learned that the offshore assets are located off the coast of Lagos, rather than off the coast of the Niger Delta further east, where the majority of the country’s oil industry assets are concentrated.

The decision to sell the assets comes months after the NUPRC completed the sale of 57 marginal fields following a lengthy and winding process to boost the country’s struggling oil production efforts.

The NUPRC had also resumed a separate bidding round for companies interested in commercializing gas flared by oil companies.

Separately, Komolafe stated that the bid round was open to foreign and local bidders with the necessary technical expertise, explaining that the projected revenue can only be revealed after the initial round of bidding.

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