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Chaos, weak administrative structure frustrating oil licensing rounds—Egbogah

The Chairman of Emerald Energy Resources and former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters from 2007 to 2010, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, has given an insights into why Nigeria has not been able to conduct another round of oil filed licencing over the years.

In an interview, he said “After the last one in 2007, I think it was difficult to also collect enough available fields to do another licensing round”.

“I thought definitely there would be fields for full licensing round at least three or four years but we didn’t have any because the industry was in chaos and the administration also not fully organised to do this.

“They were involved in all sorts of scandals. For instance, many of the cases of 2007 licensing round were still on up until 2012 – many cases that were not settled; so they couldn’t have embarked on another licensing round when they are struggling to finish the 2007’s issues. But I think that there is a need to do another licensing round at least for marginal fields because we have passed the Act that all fields which are not being operated, or that have been fallow for 10 years, should revert to the government. So, there is a need to do licensing rounds because there are lots of marginal fields that have accumulated.

“There was a great deal of uncertainty in the industry and also coping with the cases that spilled from 2007 licensing round troubled the government. And so while they were grappling with that, they couldn’t successfully organise another round. I remember my first job when I became an adviser in July 2007; the first case that was on my table was the case of OPL 245, the Malabu case; it was a very serious one and many others that I had to write about and the cases were still not settled. Even today, the Malabu case is still going on.

“A lot of things were actually done that stopped the open licensing from being done. There were many people who got blocks which led to all the cases we have today. There were so many things that were given under the table and they are all in trouble today because equity and transparency were not displayed.

Continuing, Egbogah said “We are not being efficient in producing the oil and gas that we have,” stressing that “Back in 2005 or 2006, there was a proclamation that Nigeria would want to increase its oil reserves from 36 billion barrels to 40 billion barrels, and daily production from 2.5 million barrels per day to four million bpd”.

“This was to take effect in 2010. What was the plan to realise that? None. That was why during my time (as a special adviser), I said it was a proclamation of a wish but there was no plan to support the wish. If I say I want to produce 1,000 barrels of oil today, I will tell you how I would do that – what is the plan and what are the things I must do to produce 1,000 barrels? A serious country that is so dependent on oil and gas would have done the best it could to support the industry and ensure things are done very well. The money is there for you to earn if you are able to produce.

“The problem is that our people do not know how to plan and implement. Let me give you an example: When I was an adviser, I was in the Economic Management Team and then I was in the team for the Nigerian Vision 2020. We needed to make a plan on how Nigeria could become a developed country by the year 2020,” Chairman of Emerald Energy Resources and former Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters from 2007 to 2010, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah noted.