NUPRC under fire in Senate over re-allocation of Atala Oil Field

October 3, 2022
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The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC ) came under fire at the Senate last Friday over alleged revocation and wrongful re – allocation of Atala marginal oil field (OML 46)  owned by Bayelsa state government to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited (Halkin E&P).

Consequently,  the Senate Committee on Ethics , Privileges and Public Petitions , on grounds of petitions before it from Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL) and Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited,  directed the management of NUPRC to produce written directive from President Muhammadu Buhari on allocation of the field to Halkin E&P. 

Trouble over the oil field started on April 6, 2020 when the then regulatory agency, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) revoked the operating licence of BOCL on the Marginal Oil Field on alleged lack of assets turn around for the nation in deriving  maximum value from available resources therein.

But the trio of BOCL, Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited  and Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL) kicked against the revocation on the grounds that as original operators of the oil field, explorations and productions have  been made and royalties paid into account of the federal government; and that as at the time the field was purportedly revoked, the JV-partners have an outstanding 20,700 barrels of crude on the site.

Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa state in the heat of the protest,  resolved  to seek legal redress in overturning the revocation, especially in consideration of the resources already committed to the oil  field by the state government as owners of 51% equity.

Efforts made by the Executive Commissioner, Economic Relation and Strategies, Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu, who represented the Chief Executive of Nigerian Upstream  Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) at investigative hearing conducted by Senate Committee on the matter to rationalise the decision,  proved abortive as members of the committee requested for written directive given to that effect by Mr. President.

While Kelechi spiritedly attempted to convince the Committee headed by Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central) , that the inherited action taken by the defunct DPR , was in order , the committee insisted that the Presidential Directive which favours previous operators , was not followed in the discretionary action taken by DPR.

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