International Oil Companies (IOCs) are expected to relinquish interest in over $12 billion (N4.3 trillion) oil blocks, which are expected to expire between 2017 and 2019, The Guardian reports.

Already, about 17 Niger Delta onshore Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) will expire in the next two years. If the IOcs do not renew the licences, it opens up more opportunities for indigenous investors to buy over these assets and boost the participation of Nigerians in the nation’s petroleum industry. Already, three of the IOCs have divested from 24 OMLs in the last three years, through which indigenous oil firms have invested about $10 billion to acquire the assets.

Speaking Tuesday during the Aspen Energy Roundtable in Lagos, Seplat’s Chief Executive Officer, Austin Avuru, said the bulk of the funds for the last round of asset acquisitions came from Nigerian banks. He also noted that a large volume of reserves would soon be available for grabs by Nigerian independents as many OMLs expire in the near term, particularly the Shell Joint Venture licences in 2019.

The Managing Director, Niger Delta Exploration & Production Plc. Dr. Layi Fatona, said the IOCs assets acquired by the indigenous operators have grown into portfolios of new entities. He said some lessons from the previous acquisitions showed that some assets were over-priced. He added that there was also a politicization of the bid process, citing the assumption of operatorship by Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) of certain assets whiles others were left to buyers.