Shell Nigeria has reported that the three blocks that Nigerian regulators indicated they weren’t going to renew were renewed, afterall.
In its 2018 annual report, the AngloDutch major noted: “The 20-year renewals of 16 oil mining leases (OMLs): 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 43, 45 and 46 were achieved in December 2018. These OMLs expire in October 2038”.
This simply means that OMLs 31, 33 and 36, which were initially denied approval by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, eventually got renewed after protestation by Shell.
In June 2018, Africa Oil+Gas Report had reported, based on ranking sources in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, that renewals of those three leases were denied because regulators deemed the acreages were not optimally operated.
But the Shell annual report did not say anything about OML 11, which was among the acreages submitted for renewal.
OML 11, it is now known, was renewed, but unlike the rest, the operatorship was withdrawn from Shell and that decision, by President Buhari, was only made known in February 2019, so it couldn’t make it to the Shell annual report.
NNPC Public Affairs officials have repeatedly argued that withdrawal of operatorship does not translate to withdrawal of licence. “Shell had prayed the government to renew OML 11”, they say. “Its prayers had been answered. But this renewal did not come with operatorship”.