Bayelsa bemoans loss of OML 46 to ex-partners

The Management of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited has said that the loss of its operating license in the last marginal oilfields licensing rounds was due to betrayal by its former partners.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on April 6, 2020, announced the revocation of 11 of the 13 marginal fields licences, including Oil Mining Lease (OML) 46, for Atala fields held by Bayelsa Oil Company.

The DPR had in 2003 issued marginal field licences to indigenous oil firms and oil-bearing states to build capacity and promote Nigerians’ participation in the oil sector.

The Bayelsa Oil Company which holds the majority stake of 51 per cent in OML 46, lost the licence, and said its misfortune was caused by its partner who clandestinely submitted a bid that won the licence.

Checks by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicated that DPR awarded the Atala fields to Halkin Exploration and Production Limited.

NAN equally learnt that Halkin had informed DPR in writing that “in 2019, through one of its subsidiary companies, received the approval of the board of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL former operators of Atala Field) to farm-in to 41 per cent of the field through the execution of Farm/in agreement and Field Management Service agreement with BOCL.

The company claimed to have invested over 60 million U.S. dollars to revive the asset in the process.

The Bayelsa Oil Company on Monday, called on Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa to probe the case of breach of trust, misrepresentation, corruption, obtaining by false pretense and criminal conversion of Atala marginal field OML 46 by some groups of individuals.

A statement signed by Mr Bello Akpoku, the Acting Managing Director of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited, said that the Atala Oil Field had been plagued by serious uncertainties ever since its revocation.

Akpoku stated that some individuals in Bayelsa were trying to fraudulently convert the state-owned asset to their private asset.

According to him, the Bayelsa Oil Company Limited had severally written to all stakeholders and other principal officers of the state, pleading for their intervention on the current circumstances surrounding the Atala field.

He explained that the letters also highlighted the pathetic situation and challenges faced by the management and members of staff, who have not been paid salaries for two years now.

He said that the management, in spite of the concurrent threats to their lives from all corners, had not relented in challenging every effort at taking away the oil field held by Bayelsa Government in trust for the people of Bayelsa.

The company also stated that it had written letters to the residents, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, DPR and equally written petition to the Inspector General of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other relevant security agencies.

Akpoku noted that the company was optimistic that these letters will lead to the correction of the anomalies and irregularities surrounding the OML 46 licence.

He further noted that the Atala field could generate internal revenue of a minimum of N5 billion naira monthly and 2,000 job opportunities if the potentials were harnessed.

According to Akpoku, it would be of utmost benefit to the government and people of Bayelsa that the governor salvages the assets from being lost to selfish individuals, considering the enormous potential the Atala field has.

The oil company further called Ijaw stakeholders to rally round the executive Governor of Bayelsa state, to retrieve the oil block to Bayelsa state.

NAN recalls that while reacting to the development, Diri on April 11, expressed shock over the revocation and the state’s unsuccessful bid to reacquire the marginal field by the Bayelsa Oil Company.

Bayelsa Oil Company had reapplied for the licence during the last bidding exercise conducted by the DPR, but the bid was, however, unsuccessful.

NAN also recalls that the licence for OML 46 asset originally issued in 2003, located within onshore swamps in the state, was reissued to the Bayelsa Oil Company in 2013, through a bidding process conducted by the DPR. (NAN)