National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay Nigeria, Peter Egbule has said the guideline issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for the 2020 marginal fields bid round exercise is faulty.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports Egbule made this assertion during a Twitter conference with the theme, ‘marginal oil fields auction: why citizens should be alert, concerned and involved,’ hosted by a public policy expert, Dayo Ibitoye.
The flag-off of the 2020 marginal fields bid round comes amidst the country’s poor financial situation, which has made the implementation of the 2020 budget a Herculean task for the President Muhammadu Buhari government, with capital and recurrent expenditures already slashed.
This bid round is coming 18 years after the last bid round in 2002 and is open to indigenous oil and gas companies and investors interested in participating in the exploration and production business in Nigeria.
Prior to the flag-off, stakeholders in the country’s oil and gas industry have consistently urged the Federal Government to conduct an oil bid round for the purpose of raising revenue to fund some of its critical projects.
But DPR has been charged with negligence to the Global Transparency Initiatives, specifically, the transparency principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
“We have reviewed the 2020 guidelines, and discovered disturbing loopholes,” Egbule said, stressing, “we have seen DPR’s level of preparedness, officially, but we have also noticed some loopholes in the guidelines they released that could undermine it.
“Negligence to the tenets of Global Transparency Initiatives that the present administration has assented to; specifically, the Transparency Principles the OGP and EITI were not adhered to in the guidelines DPR released. DPR cannot be said to be ready if loopholes in its own guidelines can be exploited”.
TNG reports marginal fields are known oil or gas discoveries on an IOC-owned block and where there has been no activity in at least the last 10 years. With the agreement of the IOC, the DPR carves-out a piece of land surrounding the discovery and this becomes a marginal field.
For the 2020 bid round, DPR announced that a total of 57 fields located on land, swamp and shallow offshore terrains are on offer. According to DPR, the exercise, which will be conducted electronically, will include expression of interest/registration, pre-qualification, technical and commercial bid submission and bid evaluation.
Egbule while urging the DPR to ensure that bidding companies get the awards on merit only, and not based on political affiliation or connections, said discretionary awards and non-disclosures of owners of the bidding companies are the major worries in the bidding process.
“This has been the order of the day. Although there has been an attempt at regularizing the process, the same thing continued in 2000, 2003, 2004 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2012. That is why we are asking for beneficial owners disclosure,” he said.
Egbule noted that Nigeria is the market of the future, not only in terms of exploration only but in consumption. “Our midstream is untapped. We need to start thinking of local consumption. The market is expanding,” he said.
He went further to advised DPR to do deeper scrutiny of companies’ ownership and capacities to ascertain their capacities firsthand, stressing that unbiased screening and open declaration of both registered and beneficial owners are important.