Nigeria has pre-qualified bidders for 21 of 24 marginal oilfields on offer as part of its effort to encourage local participation in its oil industry. A government statement said five companies were pre-qualified for each of the 21 fields. It did not list the remaining three, for which it said less than five bids had been received. A total of 142 companies had returned bid documents, 99 of them showing interest in more than one field. v"In line with the provisions of the tender documents, five companies have been pre-qualified for each of the 21 of the 24 fields," said a statement by Funsho Kupolokun, Presidential Assistant on Petroleum and Energy. The preselected companies would soon be invited to tender for the second stage - the "technical and commercial field specific bid" - at a date to be advertised in Nigerian newspapers.
The government last September identified 24 of Nigeria's 116 marginal fields with reserves in excess of 214 million barrels but which are not considered commercial by the oil majors. Industry experts say all the fields are located within the leasehold of joint ventures between Nigerian National Petroleum Corp and its foreign partners. The fields in general have daily production profiles of between 3,000 to 5,000 barrels per day. Most are within the leasehold of Shell, the country's biggest oil producer, while others are in concessions of ChevronTexaco and TotalFinaElf.
Nigerian critics say local industry players, lacking funds and technical know-how, were forging alliances with foreign companies providing oilfield services to the oil majors. "Such alliances could come at a price, with foreign partners dictating terms that could virtually put them in control," said one Nigerian analyst, who asked not to be named. The government has offered incentives in the form of tax breaks and reduced royalties to encourage Nigerian investors to put their money in the marginal fields. The allocation of marginal fields and the announcement last month of successful bidders for the ownership and operation of private refineries in the country are part of Nigeria's efforts to liberalize its oil industry and create more jobs.