water resource bill

…Says it’s in line with presidential order

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate Thursday ordered the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission ( NUPRC ), to restore the Atala Marginal Oil field ( OML 46) to its former owners.

Speaking in Abuja during an investigative hearing, Chairman, Senate  Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, who frowned at the total disregard for the Order of President Muhammadu Buhari that the Atala Oil field be reallocated to the original owners,  also expressed disappointment over the non appearance of both NUPRC and the beneficiary, Halkin Oil during Thursday’s hearing.

To ensure immediate compliance, the Committee vowed to submit its report to the Senate plenary and follow up with the Senate’s resolution to the regulatory agency.

Akinyelure said, “We have invited them severally and again, they have not been able to come before Nigerians and prove that the allocation of Atala Oil to Halkin is justified before the law and before humans.

“The position of this particular committee in the last sitting was that, we want the NUPRC to provide evidence before this committee today, to inform our decision on whether to support the position of NUPRC or not.

“The Nigerian Senate has asked the NUPRC to provide a written evidence that Mr. President reversed his own order. It has not been heard anywhere all over the world that, when Mr. President gives a presidential Order, a civil servant would go ahead and reverse it without a written permission from Mr. President.

“So, we are not convinced by the report of the NUPRC and we make bold to say the NUPRC has been misinformed, to allocate Atala Oil to a private limited liability company, when Mr. President had given a presidential Order that they should give considerations to former owners of ten Oil fields. Out of these ten, nine were considered, but the one of Atala is being taken away from the owners.

“Today we are here, but we can’t see NUPRC, we can’t even see the MD of Halkin Oil to show us the President’s Order that reversed his earlier Order. 

“This committee therefore, resolved as follows: that the revocation and allocation of Atala Oil is hereby declared void; that the Atala Oil should be returned to its original owners, in line with the Presidential Order; that the NUPRC should carry out the Presidential Order immediately.”

Recall that the Oil field, which was originally owned by the trio of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL), Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL) and Century Exploration and Production Limited, was erroneously reallocated to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited (Halkin E&P), through a letter dated 7th July, 2021 by the then regulatory agency, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), over alleged inability to bring the Atala Field to production.

But President Muhammadu Buhari, in October 2020, in response to the appeal by the Marginal Field Operators Group (MFOG), directed the immediate “reinstatement of the ten revoked Marginal Fields licences, on a discretionary basis, to qualified companies with consideration given to the previous operators of the respective fields, subject to the demonstration of technical/financial capacity and payment of applicable Good and Valuable Consideration (GVC).” 

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