15 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – Nigerian government plans completion of the renewal of expired shallow-water licences for foreign majors in the next few weeks, according to Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The government is currently working on new regulations for the oil sector under the Petroleum Induxtry Bill (PIB) and has been in talks with oil companies, including Anglo-Dutch Shell and US giant Chevron since 2009, when the permits expired.
ExxonMobil had retained licences 67, 68 and 70 at that time but reportedly had those rights withdrawn in March this year.
“In the next four to six weeks we will be finalising all issues of shallow-water renewals,” Alison-Madueke is quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, and the government is hoping fora passage of teh PIB, aimed at regulating the oil and gas industry, by the first quarter of 2012, she said.
“The hope is that by the end of the first quarter next year the National Assembly will have moved that forward,” Alison-Madueke said.
Certain areas of the proposed law, such as fiscal regimes, have been amended to be “more equitable” to producers, she added.
Nigeria is the fifth-biggest source of US oil imports. At least 90%of the country’s crude is pumped by Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total and Eni in joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.