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NUPRC Announces Commencement of Deep Offshore Mini-bid Round

It pledged a transparent and competitive procurement process.

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

In a statement issued Wednesday, which was signed by the commission’s Chief Executive, Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, the agency noted that the development presents an opportunity to spur new exploration and drilling activities in the prospective deep waters offshore Nigeria.

“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.

According to him, the round was aimed at further development of the deep offshore acreages which would be held in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), 2021, with its enhanced legal and regulatory frameworks that seek to encourage new investors and investments into the next phase of exploration.

The bid process, he said, would be managed by the NUPRC, in line with the provisions of the PIA, as the statutory body responsible for ensuring compliance with petroleum laws, regulations, and guidelines in the Nigerian upstream petroleum industry.

Komolafe further promised that the National Data Repository (NDR) of the NUPRC and its multi-client partners were delighted and ready to support the exercise underpinned 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.

According to him, the mini-bid round was a market-driven programme and would follow a transparent and competitive procurement process designed to attract competent third-party investors from across the world that have the capability and proficiency in operating in deepwater environment.

Historically, Komolafe stated that the exercise intends to build on the successes of the last bid round that held in April 2007 during which a total of 45 blocks, drawn from the inland Basins of Anambra, Benue and Chad; the Niger Delta Continental Shelf; Onshore Niger Delta and Deep Offshore were put on offer.

The 2007 bid round, he pointed out, was held under a different regulatory regime (the Petroleum Act, 1969) and generated massive interest and participation with its attended revenue which made 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 a dedicated programme portal had been published by the NUPRC which provides details of the bid round process, including the registration and prequalification requirements and detailed guidelines for applicants.

Komolafe further reiterated that the pre-bid conference was scheduled for January 16, 2023, to provide potential applicants with an opportunity to ask questions they may have concerning the process and requirements.

After this, he said that interested companies would be invited to submit their pre-qualification applications by January 31, 2023, assuring that the NUPRC would continue to provide further details and roadmap for the international competitive bid in due course.

Earlier, it was learnt that the offshore assets are located off the city of Lagos, rather than off the coast of the Niger Delta further to the east where most of the country’s oil industry’s assets are concentrated.

The decision to put up the assets for sale is coming months after the NUPRC concluded the disposal of 57 marginal fields after a long and winding process to ramp up the country’s struggling oil production efforts.

The NUPRC had also resumed a separate bidding round for firms interested in commercialising gas that is  flared by oil producers.

Separately, Komolafe had stated that that the bid round was open to foreign and local bidders with the technical wherewithal, explaining that the projected revenue can only be revealed after the initial ‘prospectivity’ analysis on the basis of data made available.

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja