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Nigeria Takes Bold Step to Energize Oil Sector: Plans to Revoke Dormant Exploration Leases

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The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum and Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has announced that the Federal Government is considering revoking inactive oil exploration leases granted to companies unable to conduct exploration activities.

Gbenga Komolafe, CEO of NUPRC, conveyed that only companies demonstrating robust technical and financial capabilities would retain their leases under the guidelines of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

“Based on PIA, the commission is focused on delivering value for the nation, so only firms that are technically and financially viable will keep their leases,” affirmed Komolafe in a statement to Reuters.

He outlined that the commission plans to review existing leases, and the allocation of new leases will be contingent upon specific terms and conditions.

Current data from NUPRC reveals that over 60% of prospecting licenses, comprising 53 exploration leases issued since 2003, have expired. Of these, 33 licenses, including four entangled in contract disputes, have not been renewed.

While automatic revocation has not been exercised, the regulator signals a departure from allowing companies to indefinitely retain leases without meaningful exploration activities.

The enactment of the PIA in 2021 empowers the regulator to assess the technical and financial capabilities of companies holding oil exploration leases.

The Nigerian oil and gas sector has faced challenges, witnessing dwindling investments as major players exit onshore and shallow water assets due to security concerns, infrastructure sabotage, and legal disputes in the Niger Delta.

The proposed move aims to incentivize active exploration, addressing the sector’s stagnation and fostering renewed investor confidence.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slide as U.S. Crude Stockpiles Surge, Heightening Demand Concerns

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Oil prices declined on Thursday as concerns over demand intensified due to a larger-than-anticipated build in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, dropped by 0.5% to $83.25 a barrel while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell by 0.3% to $78.28 a barrel.

The Energy Information Administration’s report revealed a substantial increase in U.S. crude oil stockpiles by 4.2 million barrels to 447.2 million barrels for the week ending February 23rd.

This surge surpassed analysts’ expectations and marked the fifth consecutive week of rising inventories.

While gasoline and distillate inventories witnessed a decline, concerns regarding a sluggish economy and reduced oil demand in the U.S. were amplified.

Satoru Yoshida, a commodity analyst with Rakuten Securities, highlighted that the significant stockpiles have heightened investor worries.

Moreover, the anticipation of delayed U.S. interest rate cuts further weighed on market sentiment, potentially undermining oil demand.

Traders have adjusted their expectations for rate cuts, with an easing cycle predicted to commence in June rather than March as previously anticipated.

Market participants await the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index for insights into inflation trends, while the possibility of an extension of voluntary oil output cuts from OPEC+ looms over price dynamics, amid lingering uncertainty in the demand outlook and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

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Crude Oil Shortage Threatens Dangote, Government Refineries, Minister Raises Alarm

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Heineken Lokpobiri, has sounded a clarion call over a looming crude oil shortage that threatens the operations of the newly inaugurated Dangote Petrochemical Refinery and government-owned refineries in Nigeria.

Addressing stakeholders at the seventh edition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit in Abuja, Minister Lokpobiri expressed concerns that unless deliberate efforts are made to increase investments and crude oil production, these refineries may struggle to obtain enough feedstock for petroleum product manufacturing.

The Dangote refinery, a colossal project spearheaded by Dangote Industries Limited, has a daily requirement of up to 650,000 barrels of crude oil, while government-owned refineries could need approximately 400,000 barrels.

However, the current pace of crude oil production and investment in Nigeria falls short of meeting these demands.

Minister Lokpobiri highlighted the need to ramp up production and attract investments in the upstream sector to ensure adequate feedstock supply for the refineries.

He emphasized the importance of efficiently utilizing Nigeria’s abundant oil and gas reserves to enhance domestic energy security and economic prosperity.

Furthermore, the minister underscored the significance of investing in energy infrastructure and transitioning towards more environmentally friendly practices to address Nigeria’s energy needs effectively.

The alarm raised by Minister Lokpobiri underscores the urgency for strategic interventions and collaborative efforts to mitigate the impending crude oil shortage and secure the future of Nigeria’s refining industry amidst evolving global energy dynamics.

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Oil Prices Surge as Brent Approaches $83, WTI Nears $78 Amidst Refinery Buying Activity

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Oil prices surged as Brent crude oil approached the $83 price level while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) neared $78 as refineries in the United States and China increased purchases.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, gained 1.1% on Monday, signaling a bullish trend in the oil market.

The recent uptick in oil prices comes amidst signs of heightened demand from refineries, particularly in key markets like the US and China.

This surge in demand has contributed to the strengthening of timespreads, indicating tighter conditions in the near term.

Market observers are closely monitoring the International Energy Week in London, where industry leaders are convening to discuss the outlook for the global energy market.

Scheduled speakers include Russell Hardy, the CEO of Vitol Group, a major player in the energy sector.

While tensions in the Middle East and production cuts by the OPEC+ alliance have supported crude prices, increased production from non-OPEC+ countries, notably the US, has capped potential gains.

Analysts predict that oil prices may continue to trade within a range, with Brent crude expected to hover around $83, while WTI remains near the $78 mark, barring significant shifts in market dynamics.

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