Following stakeholders' call on the Federal Government to place oil blocks at the bosom of local and foreign investors for development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, said it will open bidding rounds in oil fields within the ultra-deep waters by 2020.
This came even as Total Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, TEPNG, disclosed that there are still billion barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas yet to be discovered in the country.
Deepwater oil fields are defined as oil fields within water depth beyond 1,000 feet while ultra-deepwater oil fields are deeper than 5,000 feet.
Before now, stakeholders had bicker that the delay in conducting the much awaited oil licensing rounds has reportedly led to significant revenue loss, particularly estimated signature bonuses of N112 billion.
However, in his keynote address yesterday at the ongoing 37th Annual International Conference of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, NAPE, in Lagos, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari said that the nation's ultra-deep waters are yet to been explored.
He said: "The ultra-deep waters are completely unexplored as at today. Before the end of this year or next year, God willing, I believe there will be some form of biding rounds in ultra-deep waters oil assets."
He stated: "The biggest indication that we have in the nation is the oil discovery in Kolmani River region at the border community between Bauchi and Gombe, which involved the deployment of best technology and innovation that can ever be found in the industry. The industry could not find oil in the frontier basin in 30 to 40 years, now we have succeeded.
"Today, we have reached a certain level of automation in our system, such that we can now predict what happens in our company simultaneously, and within the shortest frame, in the next two to three years."
Meanwhile, Deputy Managing Director, Deepwater District, TEPNG, Mr. Kida Musa, said: "Globally, there has been a downward trend in the discovery of giant oil and gas fields that have been made, and this is in spite of the preponderance of Yet-To-Find (YTF) opportunities in the different basins all over the world.
"Coming home to Nigeria there are still billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of gas yet to be discovered even in the "so called" mature areas not to mention the frontier areas yet to be explored at all. With a combination of enabling policies and innovation technologies, this situation can be turned around.
"The dependence on conventional technologies that have been used in the past will surely not be the only solution to harness the Yet-To-Find oil and gas potentials especially in Nigeria. Those technologies were good then, they worked well in the past and we are all happy with the results. However, the days of easy oil and gas discoveries are gone. We need innovations in order to continue and come back to the era of more frequent giant discoveries as was obtained before 2012."