The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) says over 600 companies have applied to be prequalified for the ongoing bid rounds of 57 marginal oilfields in the country.
Mr Auwalu Sarki, Director of DPR, made the disclosure while speaking on Tuesday in a television programme monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that a marginal field is any field that has reserves booked and reported annually to the DPR and has remained unproduced for a period of over 10 years.
Sarki said Nigeria last conducted marginal field bid rounds in 2003, stressing that the ongoing exercise had attracted widespread interest because of the transparent and credible procedures put in place by the agency.
He said: ” First I will say that we have really witnessed an increase in bidders after the extension of the deadline to June 21. There has been almost 30 per cent increase in participation.
“If you are making a bid or auctioning any oil field, you need to get 10 people per field really going after the field. We have 57 fields and we have over 600 companies. So we can say that we are celebrating success so far.
“After the extension, we are moving according to schedule and now we are in the phase where we do pre-qualification for the bidders to apply. Everything is going perfectly.”
According to him, this is good news to Nigeria and Nigerians because it shows that the country is ready for business and that there are credible companies who are interested in investing in the country.
Sarki also disclosed that strategic programmes have been put in place by the DPR to mitigate the impact of a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
He said part of the strategy was to reduce the number of workers on offshore locations and construction sites, encourage decontamination, testing and working with health agencies, especially the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The DPR director said the agency would continue to ensure that companies are COVID-19 compliant and adhere to the 14-day quarantine protocols for workers.
Sarki said for the industry to survive and be taken to the next level, stakeholders must devise ways to deal with the triple challenges posed by the coronavirus, fall in oil prices and supply glut.
He said: “We have outlined survival kits post-COVID-19 which involves four key strategies.
“These include rationalisation of portfolios, strategic partnerships among Nigerian companies, new business opportunities using technology to get it done and cost control and management to see how best we can strive to take the nation to the next level.
“Then, expectations are four. Innovation and resilience, partnership and collaboration as well as industry growth and business development.
“This is what we are sending in the message to the entire industry because we need each other to really awaken the giant in this country and make it an investors haven.”