The position of the Nigerian Extractive Initiative Transparency Industry (NEITI) that the award of oil licences should be open, transparent, competitive and in accordance with international bid processes, has been supported by experts.

Prof Adeola Akinnisiju of the Geology Department, University of Ibadan, and Emeka Ene, president of Petroleum technology Association of Nigeria, agreed that NEITI’s position must be respected in view of its role as a watchdog in the extractive industry.

Akinnisiju, who is the president, Association of International Energy Economics, argued that NEITI is trying to correct some of the lapses in the bidding and allocation of marginal oil fields in the country, saying the issue of allocation of oil wells and licences was not without discrepancies. He said the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would address them when passed.

“That the president and the Minister of Petroleum Resources were vested with discretionary powers to issue licences to marginal field operators may not be far from the truth. There are lapses in the laws guiding the issuance and allocation of oil licences/wells, and that is what NEITI is trying to correct. The body is trying to ensure that the right legislations are put in place to restrain some political officer holders from dabbling into sensitive issues in the oil and gas industry,” Akinnisiju said.

He said PIB would ensure a true bidding process, and further limit the powers of some political appointees who issue licences indiscriminately.

Ene said the legal allocation of oil wells was germane to the growth of the industry, adding that the industry is sensitive, and therefore requires that competent hands manage it.

He said oil discovery ad exploration, among others, should not be left in the hands of mediocres, adding that the fitness level of people applying for licences must be ascertained for growth.


Information from The Nation was used in this report.