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The Federal Government of Nigeria announced on Tuesday the addition of 17 deep offshore oil blocks to the 2024 Licensing Round for oil fields.

This significant expansion is aimed at enhancing the nation’s crude oil production capacity and attracting more foreign and local investment.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, disclosed this development during a pre-bid conference held in Lagos.

Komolafe said the decision was part of the commission’s ongoing efforts to derive maximum value from Nigeria’s abundant oil and gas reserves.

“In pursuit of the commission’s commitment to derive value from the country’s abundant oil and gas reserves and increase production, the commission has been working assiduously with multi-client companies to undertake more exploratory activities to acquire more data to foster and encourage further investment in the Nigerian upstream sector,” Komolafe stated.

The new additions come on the heels of recent bids for 12 oil blocks and seven deep offshore assets in the 2024 marginal fields bid round.

This follows the earlier 2022/23 mini-bid round that saw some deep offshore blocks put up for offer.

The Federal Government’s proactive approach signals its determination to capitalize on the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

Komolafe noted that additional data acquired on deep offshore blocks facilitated this expansion. “As a result of additional data acquired in respect of deep offshore blocks, the commission has added 17 deep offshore blocks to the 2024 Licensing Round. Further details on the blocks can be found on the bid portal,” he added.

To accommodate the expanded opportunities, the NUPRC has adjusted the 2024 Licensing Round schedule. The registration and submission of pre-qualification documents, initially set to close on June 25, 2024, has been extended to July 5, 2024.

The data access, purchase, evaluation, and bid preparation phase will commence on July 8, 2024, and close on November 29, 2024, as initially planned.

Komolafe also highlighted the importance of ensuring equitable participation and transparency in the bidding process.

To this end, the commission has sought and received approval from President Bola Tinubu, who also serves as the petroleum minister, to implement attractive fiscal regimes and minimize entry fees for both licensing rounds.

A cap has been placed on the signature bonus payable for the award of the acreages to promote a level playing field for all bidders.

“Since the criteria for the award of the oil blocks are now much more attractive than they initially were during the 2022/23 Mini Bid Round, it is in the interest of equity and fair play to give all investors the same opportunity to bid for the assets,” Komolafe asserted.

Furthermore, the NUPRC announced that the pre-qualified applicants from the 2022/23 Mini Bid Round would not need to undergo a new pre-qualification process for the 2024 Licensing Round. Their technical submissions remain valid, and they are encouraged to re-submit new commercial bids to benefit from the revised, more attractive criteria.

These applicants are also free to bid for the newly offered blocks in the 2024 Licensing Round.

The Federal Government’s expanded licensing round presents a lucrative opportunity for investors to participate in Nigeria’s burgeoning oil and gas sector. With the introduction of these 17 new deep offshore blocks, Nigeria aims to solidify its position as a leading oil producer on the global stage and stimulate economic growth through strategic energy sector investments.

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