The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Nigeria Government petroleum regulatory body has finally announced its long awaited licensing round for marginal oilfields first time in nearly 20 years. The announcement came amidst the legal battles between the Nigeria government and some marginal oilfield operators sighting the recent court rulings that barred some of the fields from being auctioned.

The delay and non-assent to Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the present Nigeria government was perceived to be one of the reasons for subsequent delays in new licensing round of marginal field round since 2002. Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was passed by the Nigerian Senate in May 2017 and House of Representatives in January 2018, as part of a package of legislative reform for the oil and gas sector. However, it was subsequently rejected by the President for obvious reasons and is now being discussed again by the current national assembly.

But the prevailing global coronavirus pandemic has being a scorch to global economy and the country’s current push for marginal oilfield licensing round will invariably boost oil output and bring in much-needed revenues from fees associated with the licenses.

“A total of 57 fields located on land, swamp and shallow offshore terrains are on offer,” the DPR said in a statement posted on its Twitter feed. Nigeria revoked the existing licenses on the fields so that they could be included in the new licensing round and the marginal oilfield licensing round was announced irrespective of recent judgments passed by the Lagos High Court stopping Nigeria’s authority from revoking the two existing oilfield licences, court documents seen by Reuters showed.

The Ororo field, OML 95, and the Dawes Island Marginal Oil Field, formerly called OML 54, were among 11 licences revoked by the Department of Petroleum Resources in April. All 11 were set to be included in the marginal field licensing round. Two different judges in Lagos granted decisions on May 27 that halt the inclusion of the two fields in any licensing round, the court documents seen by Reuters showed.

The DPR said it could not comment on a matter that was ongoing before the court. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources did not immediately comment on the rulings.

The company Owena Oil and Gas Ltd, in its lawsuit stated that the DPR revoked its OML 95 licence “without recourse to the plaintiff,” court documents seen by Reuters showed. Eurafric Energy Ltd. challenged the revocation of Dawes Island and said it had spent money developing the asset, the court documents showed.

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