FG Promises Transparency in Award of Marginal Oil Fields

Timipre Sylva

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Sarki Auwalu, wednesday assured Nigerians and the international business community that the federal government’s next round of bids for the country’s marginal oilfields would be open and transparent.

Speaking during a web conference organised by the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN), with the theme “The Nigerian Oil and Gas Landscape: A World of Opportunities for Investments and Partnerships,” Auwalu said it was understandable why Nigerians seemed to be impatient about the upcoming award of the fields.

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, had said last week that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the marginal field bid rounds, adding that it would increase the national crude oil production level when the cut imposed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is lifted.

Auwalu added that for 17 years, the country had not had any such rounds and urged operators to ignore any announcement that is not directly from the DPR as some fraudsters were already circulating fake documents on the social media.

He explained that the agency will hold conferences before the announcement of the award of the marginal fields, just like it did before the implementation of the Minimum Industry Safety Training for Downstream Operations (MISTDO) recently.

He said: “There’s the issue of marginal fields that is currently ongoing. There are a lot of fake documents in circulation. I am the director, CEO of DPR. We are yet to issue any guidelines. Anything in circulation right now is absolutely fake.

“Let me take advantage of this forum to let people know that DPR will never do such a thing for something that will bring opportunities to Nigeria in secrecy. It is only on social media and you can see how our documents are.

“DPR has a unique way of presenting any guidelines and it will be done that same way MISTDO was announced. We will have conferences. We know people are hungry to invest during this exercise and we are ready and we will do it.”

Auwalu added that the next rounds will not only be transparent, but will be applauded by industry players.

“There are lots of questions on marginal fields, but people need to know that this is an opportunity for Nigerians. The marginal field is not something we can shroud in secrecy. Nigerians deserve to know because this has been 17 years that it was last done. So people are hungry. They will be given the opportunity to prepare and participate”, he said.

On the hitherto low standard of technical training in the industry, Auwalu noted that the modus of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Warri, Delta State, was being reviewed to emphasise skills, rather than academic knowledge.

“Nigerian government thought it wise to establish the Petroleum Training Institute, not for knowledge but for skills. Unfortunately, over the years, they turned it into a knowledge-based institution, competing with polytechnics and universities.

“We are reversing that so that as a youth, you can go and acquire your degree, but you must have the skills. Just yesterday, we signed an agreement between Shell (SNEPCo), DPR and the PTI to establish a diving institute. How many divers in Nigeria are Nigerians? We don’t have them.

“Meetings are on to upgrade the diving platform in PTI to an international standard so that our youths can work anywhere in the world,” he said.