WIEN Commends FG on Divestment Deals, Demands more Approvals

Leading gender equity advocate in the energy sector, Women in Energy Network (WIEN), has expressed immense joy at the eventual approval of oil and gas asset divestment transactions by the government.

President of WIEN, Mrs Eyono Fatai-Williams, declared in Lagos that the decision of the Tinubu administration to work with all parties in the transactions to close the deals indicates exciting resolve of his government to pave way for progress in the industry which has suffered so much stagnation in the past decades.

She noted that eventual approval of the divestment deals would open up greater growth opportunities for the domestic economy, enhance oilfield activities, contribute to production recovery, boost foreign exchange income and absorb more local content.

The Commission Chief Executive (CCE) of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, had in his presentation at the 2024 Nigerian Oil and Gas (NOG) Energy Week in Abuja declared that the first set of approvals has been given to parties who have completed processes for ministerial approval.

He said that indigenous energy company, Oando Energy Resources (OER), would now proceed to acquire the 20 percent stake being divested by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in oil blocks operated under NNPC/NAOC/Oando joint venture (JV) located onshore Niger Delta.

“The NAOC-Oando divestment has been concluded. The signing ceremony is to be conducted in the coming days. The Equinor-Project Odinmim divestment had also been completed. Also, the signing ceremony is to be conducted in the coming days. For the SPDC–Renaissance deal, documents have been submitted by SPDC. The documents are undergoing due diligence as we speak,” Komolafe declared.

He stated that the NUPRC was still awaiting application for ministerial consent from the parties in the ExxonMobil– Seplat deal.

With all the divestment deals lined up for approval, nearly all joint venture assets previously operated by operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Limited, Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) Limited and Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited would now be operated exclusively by Nigerian companies.

The NNPC/NAOC/Oando JV would now become NNPC/Oando JV. The NNPC/Shell/TotalEnergies/Agip JV would now become NNPC/Renaissance JV. And The NNPC/MPN JV would potentially become NNPC/Seplat JV.

The Ecquinor divestment introduces another local independent into the deepwater production sharing agreement (PSA) operated by Chevron in the deepwater.

In describing the success of the divestments as demonstration of local operating and financial capacity, Mrs Fatai-Williams expressed delight that the time, funds and hopes staked in the transactions have been justified. She called on the government’s lease administrator and parties in the remaining divestment deals to quickly drive the transactions to completion.

According to her, time has come for the country to seize control of the industry and also reap the full benefits of its resources.

She also pointed at the rising professionalism, expertise and operating capacity of Nigerians in the industry as key indices of the results the Nigerian Content policy has delivered in the past 12 years of active implementation.

The WIEN president also charged the new players in the divested interests to feel challenged by the need for rapid recovery of oilfield activities in the acquired assets and drive aggressive exploration and production to assists in building reserves and output.

In pointing out that the divested assets have suffered stagnation in new investments and work programmes, Mrs Fatai-Williams urged the Nigerian companies to step into the shoes of the exiting IOCs with confidence and add value to the acquired assets.

She noted that it took Nigerian players in the industry to reenter and reactivate marginal fields earlier sidelined by the international oil companies for their low potential for commercial returns on development investments. She added that Nigerian companies like Seplat, Xenergi, Platform and Nedogas are now leading lights in upstream gas harnessing, processing and commercialization.

With Nigerians in charge, she noted, there would be a guarantee of full domiciliation of industry job execution, patronage to the domestic economy, local industrial stimulus and value chain optimization in the industry.

The WIEN president urged the all Nigerian JV partners in the various assets to avoid the pitfall of disputes and trap of scramble for operatorship, adding that a performing venture delivers good value for all stakeholders.

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