THERE are indications that oil and gas explorations dropped in Nigeria as the rig count fell by 49.5 per cent to 53 in the first eight months (January-August) of 2021, from 105, recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. The rig count, a major index for measuring the level of activities, especially exploration in the upstream oil sector, was obtained from the reports of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.
The reports attributed the development to the Coronavirus pandemic and relatively low crude oil prices as major factors that discouraged investors from investing during the period. It was also partly attributed to the prolonged delay associated with the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, into law. Like Nigeria, the rig count of some other African oil and gas producing countries also showed significant changes during the period.
For instance, the rig count of Algeria dropped to 191 in 2021, from 271 recorded in the corresponding period of 2020, indicating a decrease of 29.5 per cent. However, the rig counts of Libya and Angola rose to 32 and 114, from 26 and 101 respectively, during the period, showing an increase of 12.8 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
Increased investment in exploration, others commenting on the development, weekend, the chief executive officer, Cabtree, Olabode Sowunmi, raised hope for increased investment in exploration and other activities in the coming years. He said: “The prolonged delay in the passage of the PIB into law scuttled the inflow of domestic and foreign investments for many years. In fact, many investors left Nigeria for other countries. But with the emergence of the PIA, we expect that the nation’s oil and gas would witness substantial investments in the coming months.”
Similarly, in its latest report – Investment uptick expected as Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill becomes law – Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research, a global provider of country risk and industry analysis stated: “We expect Nigeria’s Risk Reward Indices score to improve in next quarter’s scoring, once the changes from the PIB are integrated into our analysis.
“On the upstream side of things, Nigeria is competing for investment on the global stage with newcomers Guyana, Senegal and Kenya while industry stalwarts Brazil and Norway continue to attract investment due to outsized reserves and friendly investor environment.
“Next quarter’s RRI should show Nigeria’s upstream position improve, although attracting new investment over other destinations is likely to be a race as overall investment is likely to decline in the long-term, as decarbonisation efforts divert more capital to alternative energy and high margin barrels. Existing discoveries of sizeable reserves are the most likely area of new investment.
“The biggest impact of the new PIB will be the increase in new investment expected from existing International Oil Companies, IOCs operating the deepwater sector. The oil majors are a significant part of the deepwater players and several have joint stakes in the key offshore growth projects, Bonga Southwest, Bonga North, Bonga Main Extension (OML 118), Preowei (OML 130), and Owowo (OML 139).”
Also, the Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, said: “It removes some of the uncertainties in the sector and more importantly now you cannot hold a field for a long time without developing it for years. Now prospecting licences will expire after the period stated in the contract. Unlike in the past when major companies can just hold a field without developing it.
40bn barrels target by 2025 threatened
Commenting on the development, the National President, Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria, OGSPAN, Mr. Colman Obasi, said: “The dwindling rig count clearly showed that the nation is not investing enough in the upstream sector. It also illustrated that we might not likely meet set targets, especially the attainment of 40 billion barrels reserves target by 2025.
“Besides, it also showed that Nigeria’s current 37 billion barrel reserves might be depleted much faster than expected, if the nation does not invest much in exploration, required to make new finds and increase reserves. More than that, it showed further that the emerging oil and gas countries in Africa, and other continents could overtake Nigeria in the medium and long term.”
In any case, Lead promoter, EnergyHub Nigeria, Dr. Felix Amieyeofori, called on the International Oil Companies, IOCs, indigenous companies, and the Federal Government to work toward increasing the investments, and by extension the rig count in the upstream sector.
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