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Nearly Completed 2020 Marginal Field Bid Rounds Shrouded In Secrecy – Policy Alert

UYO, NIGERIA/ Policy Alert, a civil society organisation promoting economic and ecological justice in the Niger Delta has called on the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to be more transparent in its management of the 2020 marginal field bid rounds, currently being brought to a close by the Commission.

A statement released this morning and signed by the organisation’s Executive Director, Tijah Bolton-Akpan, said:

“As the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) moves to close the 2020 marginal field bid rounds, we are concerned over the opacity that has marked the implementation of the round up until now. We therefore call on the Commission to promptly release to the public the identity of successful awardees, and details of the corresponding fields, fees and signature bonuses collected so far.

“The Government of Nigeria has made serious commitments on anti-corruption and extractive sector transparency at the level of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). It is crucial that the bid round is made to conform with these global standards as well as with the transparency and accountability provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.

“We are particularly keen on seeing how the Commission will align its work on the bid round with recent contract transparency and beneficial ownership reforms.”

On the delays to the bid round, the statement noted:

“We see the protracted 2020 Marginal Field Bid Rounds as a blessing in disguise since it has provided the opportunity for aligning the round with the PIA 2021. In 2020, Policy Alert had highlighted some of the weaknesses in the Bid Round Guidelines. But with the PIA 2021, the regulators and companies have now come under relatively more progressive obligations as it relates to contract disclosure, beneficial ownership transparency, community development and environmental management.”

The statement added: “Effectively implemented, these new requirements could enable the bid round to become a veritable instrument for boosting Nigeria’s oil-derived receipts and improving the development of oil-producing communities.

“We are excited that the Commission has announced transitional mechanisms to align the round with the PIA 2021 but our expectation is that it will do so in a manner that is open, engaging and non-discriminatory.”