Nigeria signs oil deal to unlock $10 bn investment

Nigeria has signed an offshore oil deal with Shell, Exxon, Total and Eni, that the state says will generate millions, settle disputes and open the way to a $10 billion investment.

The “Execution of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 118 (Bonga) Agreements” was signed Tuesday by the local subsidiaries of the four oil majors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, has been hit hard by a combination of falling crude prices and the global pandemic.

“This marks a watershed in the administration of deepwater operations in Nigeria,” the NNPC said on Twitter.

“Over $10bn of investment will be unlocked as a result of this development.”

The offshore oil block OML 118 situated 120 kilometres (75 miles) off the coast includes Bonga, the largest deep-water project to commence production in Nigeria.

Bonga produced 90,000 barrels per day in February, below its maximum capacity of 225,000 bpd, and the new deal could lead to an expansion of the field’s capacity.

The agreement also brings “immediate income for government in the excess of $780 million”, NNPC head Mele Kyari said, and an opportunity to resolve a $9 billion which he did not specify,

Kyari said in a speech that he hoped the agreement would be an “opportunity for investors to see that this country is open for business.”

OPEC-member Nigeria draws only a fraction of oil and gas investments in Africa as it struggles with a reputation for inefficiency, corruption and high operating costs.

But officials hope a long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill currently in the National Assembly will encourage more investment with amendments to regulations, royalties and taxes.