Nigeria to Open Bidding for Deep Offshore Oil Blocks

The Nigerian government has appointed a transaction adviser for the upcoming bid round of select acreages.

The consultant, a subsurface evaluation service company named Petro-Vision, is involved in pre-Financial modelling for the licencing sale.

The government is offering Oil Prospecting Leases (OPLs) 312, 313, 314 and 318, confirming our exclusive report in the August 2022 edition of the monthly Africa Oil+Gas Report. The acreages are all in the deepwater Benin Basin, considered the most prospective basin in the country after the Niger Delta.

The licencing round, which is being prepared for launch before Christmas 2022, will be the first open lease sale of exploratory tracts to be superintended by the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the new regulator established by the Petroleum Industry Act (2021). It follows, closely, the conclusion of the marginal field bid round (featuring small, undeveloped discoveries), which was launched by the Department of Petroleum Resources, the defunct regulatory agency, in mid-2020.

The selection of these OPLs: 312, 313,314 and 318, suggests that the authorities want to follow up on the leads generated by the existing discoveries in the Benin Basin. OPL 312 is located directly south of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 113, which hosts the Aje producing field. OPL 313 is sited directly south of OPL 310, in which the Ogo field, a large oil and gas accumulation, was discovered in 2013. OPL 314 is a neighbouring acreage east of OPL 313 and OPL 318 sits below (meaning ‘located south of’) OPL 321, once held by the Korean National Oil Company.

Participants in the forthcoming bid round will access seismic data from multiclient data packages acquired by both PGS, the Norwegian geophysical company and the TGS-Petrodata consortium. But the platform on which the packages will be accessed is provided by a company named Maxfront Technologies.

The Benin Basin deepwater mini-bid round (the working title), follows up other measures aimed at attracting investment from local and international operators, as the country desperately tries to rein in declining crude oil output. This year alone production has slumped from 1.4Million Barrels of Oil Per Day in January 2022 to as low as 937,000BOPD in September, which has now inched back up to 1.01MMBOPD in October 2022, according to NUPRC data.

In mid-August 2022, NNPC Limited announced it had concluded Production Sharing contract extension agreements with its partners for five deepwater oil blocks: OMLs 128, 130,132, 133, and 138. The partners included Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo), TOTAL Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (TEPNG), Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL), and Nigerian Agip Exploration (NAE). “These renewals validate earlier commitment to maintaining a significant deepwater presence in Nigeria, via Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Deepwater) Limited,” ExxonMobil tweeted, adding that the agreements are among the first such renewals to be consummated after the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).


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