The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), has indicated that 208 open oil blocks are up for grabs by firms and investors.
The DPR in its recent report, also revealed that a total of 184 oil blocks had already been awarded to qualified investors.
According to the DPR, there are seven basins in the country. They are in Anambra, Benin, Benue, Bida, Chad, Niger Delta and Sokoto.
However, some of the basins are more buoyant than others as shown by the number of producing acreages in the Niger Delta basins. Sokoto, Bida, Benue and Chad basins are the most uneconomic as there are no productive wells or those with proven commercial reserves of hydrocarbon.
In the Benue, Bida,Chad and Sokoto basins, which have 43, 17, 46 and 28 oil blocks, there are no oil mining leases. Benue and Chad basins have two and six OPLs while Bida and Sokoto do not have any.
According to the report, Anambra basin has 19 oil blocks. Of these, six are operated under the oil exploration licence (OPL) while one is under oil mining licence (OML), leaving 12 blocks for offer. Benin basin has 48 oil blocks with eight OPLs, three OMLs and 37 open blocks. The Niger Delta basin has 191 oil blocks with 52 OPLs, 105 OMLs and 34 blocks open for bid.
An oil prospecting licence confers exclusive rights of surface and subsurface exploration for the production of oil and gas in an area not more than 2590 square kilometres (sq. km) about 1000 sq. miles in size.
The OPLs granted for onshore/land/swamp are for an initial period of three years with the option of renewal for a maximum of two years. For the inland basin and deepwater blocks, the exploration is 10 years, broken into two five years, which automatically roll over unless withdrawn due to nonperformance.
An Oil Mining Lease or Licence (OML) is granted to a licencee who has fulfilled the work commitment as stipulated in the petroleum drilling and production regulations.
OML is granted if the following potential for economic production exist in an OPL, for land/shallow offshore/Inland Basin, 10,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and for deep offshore acreasges, 25,000 bopd. The oil mining lease or licence allows a maximum acreage of 1295 sq. km and is due for renewal on expiration after 20 years.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director Dr. Maikanti Baru has reiterated the Corporation’s commitment to continue with exploration activities in these basins to boost daily oil production and reserves of the country.
He said: “We have a mandate of opening up new frontiers to enable production and reserve addition. NNPC is set to resume exploration activities in both the Chad and Benue Troughs. There is a high level of optimism based on recent seismic processed data from the Chad Basin that our sojourn this time around will yield successes.”
Some multinational oil service firms, such as Halliburton and Schlumberger as well as indigenous and Chinese firms, have over the years carried out seismic and exploratory activities in the Chad basin without finding hydrocarbon in commercial quantity.
However, the Federal Government believes that as much as there is oil in commercial quantity in the other part of the Chad basin in the Republic of Chad, there is hope to find same on Nigeria’s side of the basin, perhaps with advanced technology.