Nigeria to hold oil licensing round by year-end
Nigeria will hold its first oil exploration bidding round for five years by the end of this year, while licence renewal talks with Shell and Chevron over existing onshore fields are in their final stages, the oil minister said on Tuesday.
The country’s light, low sulphur crude oil is popular with U.S. and Asian buyers, but oil majors say uncertainty over changes in regulation in a proposed oil bill and insecurity in the onshore Niger Delta are holding back new investment.
“We expect within the next couple of months a marginal bid round will be announced. We hope a major bid round will follow before the end of the year,” Diezani Alison-Madueke told Reuters in an interview. “Shell and Chevron (onshore licence renewals) are … in the final stages now, those will definitely be out before the end of the year,” she added. Exxon Mobil signed 20-year oil licence renewals on Nigerian onshore assets producing around 550,000 bpd in February, but other oil majors are still negotiating terms with the government.
Some industry experts have questioned why licences are being renewed before parliament has passed the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which will adjust terms on these types of contracts. “It would have become slightly cumbersome to keep waiting on the PIB before the renewals,” Alison-Madueke said in reply.