The Federal Government’s plan to boost its revenue in the face of dwindling oil prices seems to have suffered a setback, as two Federal High Court judges have blocked the government’s effort to revoke two oil field licenses.
This will negatively affect the full licensing round for marginal fields, which the Federal Government plans to launch in the month of June.
The 2 marginal fields–the Ororo field, known as OML 95, and the Dawes Island marginal oil field, formerly called OML 54–were among 11 oil licenses that were revoked by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in April. These oil fields were part of the initial 56 fields in the marginal field licensing round.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on May 29, granted the order of interim injunction against the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the Ministry, following a May 18 ex parte application filed by Euratic Energy Ltd for the Dawes Island marginal field, which is located in the swamp terrain about 15km southwest of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Judge had restrained the defendants, i.e., the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, from disposing, offering, selling, alienating, dissipating, attaching or assigning the Plaintiff’s assets of the Dawes Island marginal oil field.
As for the Ororo marginal field, the presiding Judge of a Federal High Court in Lagos, Muslim Sule Hassan, on May 28, granted an order of interim injunction against the defendants, following a motion ex parte filed by Owena Oil and Gas Ltd.
Justice Hassan ordered the parties to maintain status quo in relation to the revocation of the oil license, pending the determination of the motion on notice pending before the court.
This means that the petroleum ministry will not be able to include these oil fields in the planned marginal fields licensing later this month.
Both the Ministry of Petroleum and the DPR did not immediately comment on the new development.
Sometime last month, the Federal Government had disclosed that it was going to delay major licensing rounds for the marginal oil fields due to the coronavirus pandemic. This has seen the revenue projection from signature bonuses drop from N939 billion to N350 billion.
It was reported that the Federal Government, in April, revoked the mining licenses of 11 oil and gas firms operating in the marginal fields over their inability to turn the assets around, despite being given enough time.
The government said that it was in the best interest of the country to revoke those licenses, as there was urgent need to derive maximum value from available resources, especially in the face of dwindling revenue.