I didn’t sell oil blocks – Alison-Madueke

*PIB, oil revenue task force to submit reports

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

22 May 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has come out vehemently to deny allegations that she sold off oil blocks to shady companies, noting instead that the Federal Government has yet to organize bids to sell the oil blocks which were recently divested by the international oil companies.

Alison-Madueke, who was speaking on Tuesday at the annual Ministerial Press Briefing in Abuja, stated that the present government has not organized any bid round since it took over, and there was no basis for the allegations that she had sold off the oil blocks.

She further explained that equities in the blocks were assigned to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), which is the exploratory arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“NNPC, acting on behalf of the government, has pursued a transformational agenda that will align with our transformation agenda, in doing that we have repositioned the NPDC which is the upstream subsidiary of the NNPC as a typical company for the corporations engagement in exploration and production activities and we have targeted that particular company for growth and sustainability in its operations.

“We therefore assigned 55 percent equity stake in the eight blocks which IOCs 45 percent equity stake was divested under the NNPC/Shell/Total/NAOC joint venture. Those oil blocks are OML 4, 38, 41, 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42.

“I believe those are the blocks that have been reported severally in the media that I sold and let me state categorically that we have had no bid rounds in Nigeria since we came into government neither have we kicked off marginal field round, although we intend to do so in June.”

“In fact our equities in these blocks were assigned to NPDC in order to grow our own national oil company and as a result of this, we have seen in this space of time the addition of over a billion barrels of oil reserves and about 5 billion cubit scfs of gas to NPDC’s asset today.

“It has never been seen in history before and this blocks are now free of funding constraints that have plagued the joint ventures and increased investments of both NNPC and its parties that have acquired the Shell, Total and Agip interests in these blocks can now proceed in developing the blocks at an accelerated pace.”

She noted, NNPC has now developed “a progressive plan for the NPDC with detailed production and financial projections up to 2015 when we expect that if we continue aggressively on this path as we have so far, by 2015, we should hit a production target with our NOC of 345,000bpd from the 30,000bpd we met it at when we came into government about 2 years ago. The current production capacity of NPDC is 90,000bpd.

“Beyond 2015, we expect that it will become what is considered a medium sized company and should have capacity to maintain oil production at an average of 400,000bpd which is very good considering the time that we have had to work with,” she stated.

She also noted that in line with “the transformation agenda of government, the transparency and accountability principle of government as well, I set up a special taskforces a couple of months ago headed by eminent Nigerians to address critical issues that are of importance to reforms in our sector.

“You will recall the special PIB taskforce was set up, the technical committee for the PIB, the special taskforce on good governance and controls in the NNPC and other parastatals, petroleum revenue taskforce and of course, the national refinery taskforce; they have worked very diligently over the last two and half months, they had sixty working days or ninety days as the case may be to round up their activities. The first two are preparing to do that,” she added.

The Minister noted that in terms of downstream monitoring and regulation, the Department of Petroleum Regulation (DPR) has put in place tracking policy which consists of a remote sensing technology for tracking.

She added that, “Environmental restoration of Ogoni land is in place and going forward, a major announcement will be made on soil remediation and infrastructure provisions as well as host community programmes.

She said that although, the upstream sector suffered some setbacks at the height of some militancy activities in the Niger Delta, it has gained momentum after the amnesty programme; our crude production is now averaging about 2.5mbpd. In order to ensure our commitment in the vibrant upstream sector, we have had to provide security for investors and we have started the renewal of leases in good faith; firstly with the NNPC/MPN JV which was done a couple of months ago in respect of OML 67, 78 and 70 in our shallow waters, others renewals which has to do with Chevron and Shell are expected to be concluded by June at the latest.

The Minister observed that domestic refining in the country has been extremely topical adding that, “we are on target with that; at this time about 20% of our domestic consumption is been supplied by our refineries and a large plan is to return them to 90% capacity utilisation. The timeline for the next TAM by the original refinery builders is also here.”