Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, has expressed displeasure at the predilection for assignment of rights to upstream assets by Nigerian licence holders.
“In many cases, the moment people get a letter of award, they write to say they want to assign”, he told Africa Oil+Gas Report in an interview.
“Assign what?”, he asked. “There’s a phrase in law, frequently rendered in Latin: ‘Nemo dat quod non habet‘ meaning ‘You can’t give what you don’t have’. For you to get an award you have to show the proof that you can pay the signature bonus and you can finance the field development. You get it only because you’ve met the requirements. Your award would have been consummated before you can talk of assignment. We shouldn’t be encouraging people making money by trading papers”.
Komolafe, a career public servant, who was appointed to the job in September 2021, declared to AOGR that “what separates a fish seller from a proper industry person is the attitude to the development of the field or asset he is assigned”.
In the very brief interview, the first exclusive conversation he would have with any media enterprise, Komolafe declared again and again:
“We will not be arbitrary. Anyone whose licence is revoked during my tenure will not have a space to challenge. We will take a decision such that anyone challenging will be standing on very weak ground. You bring your field development programme. That programme is very key and our oversight of the programme will be guided by the finest points of the law”.