Nigeria: ”Oil licensing round to be completed before year end”

Oil Minister Deziani Allison-Madueke says a planned licensing round of marginal oil blocks and the passage of wide-ranging legislation to overhaul the energy sector will take place this year. The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will re-write Nigeria’s decades-old relationship with its foreign oil partners, altering everything from the fiscal framework for offshore oil projects to the involvement of indigenous firms in the sector. Allison-Madueke has repeatedly said the passage of the bill is imminent but it has been subject to numerous revisions and debate. Oil executives have said billions of dollars of potential investment is on hold amid the uncertainty. “The oil licensing rounds will take place in Nigeria before the end of the year. The energy bill will be passed well before the end of this year,” Allison-Madueke said.

She said the bill will “ensure Nigeria begins to be known as a gas-producing country as well as an oil-producing country” and that concessions had been made to meet the concerns of the country’s existing partners. “We have taken on board 100-120 amendments to this legislation … so we are trying to ensure the concerns of all stakeholders are taken on board … But of course it will not be possible to please all the people all the time,” she said. Allison-Madueke said Nigeria’s oil production was running at around 1.9 million barrels per day and that Nigeria would do nothing to disrupt current market stability, which she hoped would continue well into next year. An amnesty with militants in the Niger Delta, the heartland of Africa’s biggest oil and gas producer, has enabled oil firms to repair infrastructure damaged by years of sabotage and the country’s oil output has started to recover. “Nigeria has gone through a very bad period in the past few years … we are now in the business of recovery which to some extent explains the increase in production,” she said. “Once we have taken care of the integrity issues… we will achieve a certain level of stability in these figures and that will be kept in line more or less with the OPEC targets.”
OPEC President Wilson Pastor says oil at $75 to $85 a barrel is not a problem for the world economy. Speaking in Vienna, before the start of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ meeting today, he said there was a consensus among members to keep production unchanged.