Exactly six years after the operating licence for Chevron’s Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 83, 85, 88, 89, 90, 91 and 95 expired in December 2008, after 40 years of issuance, the federal government has renewed the licence for these seven leases for another 20 years, THISDAY has learnt.
Chevron Nigeria Limited operates these seven acreages and five others – OMLs 49, 51, 52, 53 and 55, under a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with Chevron having 40 per cent interest, while the national oil company holds 60 per cent.
Before the renewal, Chevron had commenced the divestment of its 40 per cent stake in five of these 12 acreages.
THISDAY gathered that Chevron applied for the renewal of the license since 2006, two years before the expiration.
It was however, not clear why the federal government delayed the approval for six years after the expiration; neither was it clear why the recent approval by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, was kept out of the public glare, unlike the renewal of the Mobil license for 20 years, which was signed in full public glare in February 2012.
Chevron’s General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA), Mr. Deji Haastrup, declined to comment on the matter, despite several e-mails and text messages.
But a top official of the company, who did not want to be quoted, confirmed the renewal to THISDAY but declined to give details on the reserves capacity of the seven acreages, as well as the financial commitment of Chevron to the federal government, with regards to the renewal, citing “charged political atmosphere.”
He stated that the renewal would inspire the confidence of Chevron and other International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Nigeria’s operating environment, which has been characterised by uncertainty due to the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).