The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, yesterday, disclosed that more than 600 companies have applied to be prequalified for the ongoing bid rounds of 57 marginal oilfields in the country.
In a television programme, monitored by Vanguard, Mr. Auwalu Sarki, Director of DPR, said the exercise was important as Nigeria last conducted marginal field bid rounds in 2003.
Engr. Sarki, who noted that the ongoing exercise had attracted widespread interest because of the transparent and credible procedures put in place by the agency, said: "First I will say that we have really witnessed an increase in bidders after the extension of the deadline to June 21. There has been almost 30 per cent increase in the participation.
"If you are making a bid or auctioning any oil field, you need to get 10 people per field really going after the field. We have 57 fields and we have over 600 companies. So we can say that we are celebrating success so far.
"After the extension, we are moving according to schedule and now we are in the phase where we do pre-qualification for the bidders to apply. Everything is going perfectly."
However, Vanguard's investigation had shown that many indigenous oil and gas companies were not able to bid because of the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices which had already compelled operators to slash their 2020 capital budgets. Some chief executives who preferred not to be named, had said they would not be in a position to bid for the fields at this time.
But Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, had indicated that they would participate in the bid as the fields would enable them increase their production capacities.
In a recent interview, the chairman of Seplat, Dr. Bryant (ABC) Orjiako, who confirmed the readiness of the company to invest in new assets, had stated: "We have not changed from our very long term plan as we are constantly looking at acquisition opportunities.
"We did a successful acquisition of an entity which was Eland at the end of last year and despite the collapse of oil price globally and hardship in the global economy, we remained focused on acquisitions. "When we see an acquisition, we said we are committed to price sensitive acquisition which means that we will not over pay, so, as the industry changes, it means that the prices that buyers are willing to pay will continue to change and we will change with this and continue to do acquisitions."