Uche Usim, Abuja
In its quest to recover long-standing legacy debts, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has announced the revocation of five oil mining licences (OML) and one oil prospecting licence (OPL) belonging to five companies.
The revocation was contained in a public notice issued on Thursday, even as the regulatory body said the action was in response to a presidential directive to “recover legacy debts” owed by the companies operating the licences.
The five companies affected are Pan Ocean Oil Corporation (OML 98); Allied Energy Resources Nigeria, (OML 120 and 121); Express Petroleum and Gas Company (OML 108); Cavendish Petroleum Nigeria (OML 110) and Summit Oil International (OPL 206).
Summit Oil is reportedly owned by the family of late Chief Moshood Abiola.
Pan Ocean, it was gathered, had fine-tuned arrangements to commence the production of oil and gas from OML-147 at Owa Aladima.
OML 147 is in the Niger Delta, and also the first to be on production among the 2007 bid rounds.
The firm’s three projects which will be ready for unveiling at the technical start up taking place June 10, 2019, is expected to contribute significantly to Nigerian industrialisation and economic growth.
Before now, the former Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu on several fora hinted of government’s strategic agenda to recover the oil licenses of the companies indebted to it as the debt had assumed a staggering dimension. The move was also to help fund the 2019 budget.
Kachikwu expressed worry that some of the companies had failed to make statutory remittances in spite of being in Joint Operatorship (JV) with the Federal Government, a development he said was denying it revenue running into billions of dollars.
Revocation of licences is the ultimate penalty taken by government against companies who default on royalty payments.
Experts say the Nigerian government, over the years, has not always be keen to wield the stick apparently due to insufficient political will.
Nigeria, perhaps, is the most lenient in Africa in unleashing the full weight of the law on oil acreage rent, especially when it concerns local Exploration and Production