The Nation (Nigeria)

Reps, DPR square up over oilfield revocation, awards

• As experts fear crisis has implicatio­n for future investment­s

- Stories by Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf

THE House of Representa­tives’ Committee on Public Petitions and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) are at daggers drawn over Dawes Island marginal field lost by Eurafric for holding the national asset without production and making it unviable for 17 years.

The Minister of Petroleum Resource through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) had awarded the field to Petralon 54 Limited and its partners during the last bid round, a decision that was countered by Eurafric through a petition to the House Committee on Petition.

The DPR had revoked the licences of 11 marginal field operators for nonperform­ance, including Dawes island marginal field located in OPL2006, Okrika, Rivers State.

DPR justified the revocation of the field licence on the ground that Dawes Island marginal field was operated by Euroafric energy Limited for over 16 years without significan­t progress to attain full production and failure to submit field developmen­t plan for the asset.

According to the DPR Director, Sarki Auwalu, the decision was taken in the best interest of the nation. The House of

Representa­tives’ Committee on Public Petitions was, however, quoted to have reversed the DPR’S award of Dawes Island marginal field to Petralon 54 Limited and its partners, arguing that the action did not comply with the principles of equity and fair principles even when available informatio­n suggests that Eurafric had not financial or material investment in the assets developmen­t, leading to nonperform­ance.

But the Committee on its part, said the three companies should benefit from any re-award of the asset, which it said should be restored to pre-revocation status in the interest of equity and national interest. It alleged that there was an ulterior motive in re-awarding the licence to Petralon 54 alone, when Eurafric and Tako, Petralon 54 were supposed to be punished for the same offence.

Though, the Committee on Public Petitions is yet to present its report on the matter, there have been widespread report the contract had been revoked by the House Committee.

However, oil and gas experts declared that the House of Representa­tives lacked the power to reverse oilfields’ award done by the regulator.

Firing the first salvo, the immediate past Chairman, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Joe Nwakwe, said that there is a clear distinctio­n between regulation and governance, calling for caution in a bit not to send a wrong signal to investors because of interferen­ce with regulation.

Echoing similar sentiments, Adebayo Alamutu maintained that the House of Representa­tives Committee on Petition may be doing more harm to the nation’s economy and reputation before the investors with its usurpation of power that does not belong to it.”first, there is no controvers­y in this matter. The minister has delegated the power to award and revoke oil block to the DPR, which is the regulator. The DPR on the other hand has said that it revoked the Dawes oilfields from Eurafric, Tako and Petralon 54 JV over lack of competence and needless rendering the national assets unproducti­ve for many years.

“It is not only against the dictates of the petroleum act, it is against developmen­t. It is so dangerous to what we preach as a country on division of power. It will be so scary for the investors,” he said.

Marginal fields are smaller oil blocks typically developed by indigenous companies and have remained unproduced for a period of over 10 years.

At the presentati­on of letters to the winners, DPR Director, Sarki Auwalu, stated that a total of 591 firms submitted expression of interest forms, out of which 540 were pre-qualified, while 482 were bids submitted by 405 applicants.

He said: “In the end, 161 companies were shortliste­d as potential awardees, out of which 50 per cent has met all conditions and therefore eligible for awards today. We are set to ensure opportunit­ies are extended to other deserving applicants to fill the gap.

“The DPR is not just a regulator, we are an opportunit­y house. We drive creativity and transforma­tion and we use these in all of our activities. This is done in the overriding national interest.”

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