By Udeme Akpan
THE Federal Government said yesterday it would realize $500 million (N189.5 billion) from the sale of the nation’s 57 marginal oil fields.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, who expressed the optimism, said 50 per cent of the target had been realized.
Speaking at the end of the just concluded 2021 First Quarter Ministerial Meeting, held in Lagos, Sylva, who also spoke on the rehabilitation of refineries and petrol pricing, said: “The process has been concluded. Letters have gone out and people have started paying their signature bonuses. We have received almost 50 per cent of signature bonuses already. “161 companies were allocated marginal fields and I will not give you the details of how many have paid. I’ve told you that up to 50 per cent of those winners have paid.”
On the transparency of the exercise, he said: “I think this is the best we could have gotten clearly. If you followed the processes, we published, people applied, companies were pre-qualified, companies went to the data room and of course, assessment of their bids was done by competent people. ’There were consultants involved in the whole process and bidders emerged, and that’s all I can say.”
It was a very transparent process and I think a lot of people are also hailing the process.” On the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries, he said: “I have already spoken about the refineries in a detailed interview. Last week Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved comprehensive rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery and that is going to start forthwith.
‘’It was approved for the sum of $1.5 billion and we are going to also start the rehabilitation of Warri and Kaduna Refineries shortly.”
Also commenting on petrol pricing, the minister who pointed that the government was not aware of any increase in the price of petrol, said: “Definitely, there is no fuel increment. The price remains N162 per litre. We, are in discussion with labour and with other stakeholders, and until all those discussions are concluded, we are not going to fully deregulate. ‘’But we understand that some people, and that is criminal, are beginning to sell product for more than the approved price and the relevant agencies should ensure that those marketers are sanctioned. “You will recall that on my inauguration, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was given mandate areas to achieve and we are very well on course.”
The last yearly assessment, we really hit the mark on six of those areas and we are only lagging behind on three of those mandates.
‘’But what we have done in the Ministry of Petroleum is to review our performance every quarter and this is what we have just done. We came together as a ministry, all the agencies, together with myself, so that we can review our performance so that we can deliver better to you, the Nigerians.
“Those three thematic areas are well on course. One of which is the PIB. You know that the PIB is well on course. The other is on the production.
‘’The mandate is to increase production to three million barrels but you know that because of OPEC quotas, that has been challenged. And then, the last one is the refineries, to ensure that refineries are rehabilitated and you can see a milestone that we achieved last week.
‘’The Federal Executive Council has already approved the comprehensive rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refineries and we are on course to rehabilitate Warri and Kaduna Refineries.”
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC,, Mallam Mele Kyari, had described the recently approved rehabilitation as a worthy undertaking embarked upon after diligent consideration and in strict adherence to industry best standards.