Senate orders NUPRC to return OML 46 to original owners

Senate orders NUPRC to return OML 46 to original owners

 

The Senate Committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions, on Thursday, mandated the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), to restore the Atala Marginal Oil field ( OML 46) to its former owners.

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The oil field was mistakenly transferred to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited (Halkin E&P) through a letter dated 7th July, 2021 by the then regulatory agency, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), over alleged inability to bring the Atala Field to production. The oil field was originally owned by the trio of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL), Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL), and Century Exploration and Production Limited.

However, in response to the Marginal Field Operators Group (MFOG) appeal, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the immediate “reinstatement of the ten revoked Marginal Fields licences, on a discretionary basis, to qualified companies, with consideration given to the previous operators of the respective fields, subject to the demonstration of technical/financial capacity and payment of applicable Good and Valuable Consideration (GVC).”

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Despite the President’s order, the DPR (now NUPRC) gave the Atala Oil field to Halkin Exploration and Production Limited, a company that was not one of the previous operators, while giving the other nine fields back to their original owners.

One of the original owners, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited, was outraged by the regulatory agency’s blatant disobedience to the President’s Order and asked the Nigerian Senate to take action by pressuring it to follow the President’s Order in a petition signed by Sir Daniel Chukwudozie.

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Dr. Kelechi Ofoegbu, Executive Commissioner, Economic Relation and Strategies of NUPRC, spoke before the Senate Committee last Friday, September 30, 2022, on behalf of his organization and Halkin, a beneficiary of the oil field.

He was subsequently asked to appear before the Committee on Thursday, to show written evidence of how President Buhari, who also doubles as Minister of Petroleum, instructed that the Atala Oil field should be reallocated to Halkin.

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But neither the NUPRC nor the Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited showed up at the resumed hearing on Thursday, while Barrister Ike Onwuchuluba made appearance on behalf of th petitioner, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited.

Pronouncing the resolution of the Senate’s Committee on Thursday, the Chairman, Senator Ayo Akinyelure (Ondo Central), frowned at the total disregard for the Order of President Buhari that the Atala Oil field be reallocated to the original owners.

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The Committee also expressed disappointment over the non appearance of both NUPRC and the beneficiary, Halkin Oil during Thursday’s hearing.

To ensure immediate compliance, the Committee vowed to submit its report to the Senate plenary and follow up with the Senate’s resolution to the regulatory agency.

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