ABUJA â€”NIGERIA is weighing up plans for a new licensing round, with a senior government official claiming that blocks holding an estimated two billion barrels of reserves would be up for grabs.
Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Emmanuel Egbogah, said, yesterday: â€œThere will definitely be a bidding round this year with both onshore and offshore fields. It will be something not less than two billion barrels.â€
The government has not yet finalized the number of leases that will be made available this year.
The nationâ€™s auction plans come as China seeks to buy significant amounts of the OPEC memberâ€™s natural resources. In December, Egbogah said China was ready to invest $50 billion to acquire 6 billion barrels of Nigerian oil. He said:â€We have been in negotiations with the Chinese since August of last year. There might be a revised offer, but I am not in a position to confirm that.â€
Chinaâ€™s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi led a high level delegation to Nigeria last month to discuss upstream co-operation, but said at the time the two countriesâ€™ oil relationship was in its early stages.
In September, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) identified 23 licences in Nigeria in which it would like to buy stakes, including 16 operated by Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil which expired last November and were up for renewal.
Egbogah said this yearâ€™s bidding round would include oil licenses relinquished by Western players.
On Friday, Shell said it had agreed to sell its stake in three onshore oil mining leases, which were not currently producing, to a consortium consisting of two local companies and Franceâ€™s Maurel & Prom.
The agreement, which includes 30 wells with a production capacity of 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, must be approved by the Nigerian government.