Lekoil still awaiting second ministerial consent for OPL 310


Lekoil is expecting the second of the two consents of Nigerian authorities on Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 310, according to Africa Oil + Gas Report.

The current lease expiry date is 2018. Lekoil has an understanding with Baker Hughes, a GE company, for technical partnership and investment in appraisal of the discovery, possibly leading to first oil. But it cannot proceed without ministerial consent. The consent to complete the transfer of the original 17.14% participating interest that Lekoil acquired on the lease in February 2013 was granted by the Minister of state for Petroleum Resources in June 2017 (almost 4 years and 3 months later). However, the authorities’ consent for a second acquisition made in November 2015, when Lekoil acquired Afren’s remaining 22.86% participating interest in the block is still awaiting ministerial consent.

The key challenge here is that Optimum, which is the licence holder and Lekoil’s partner, feels it ought to have been consulted when Lekoil acquired the equity from Afren. Some of the regulatory officials at the DPR, who are in charge of preparing the documents for the Minister of state to sign on, want Optimum to give them a go ahead before doing the required due diligence and processing the consent documents. Lekoil, a listed company, argues that the law does not require Optimum’s nod before the Minister can give a consent. Optimum is however pushing for a renegotiation of terms and Lekoil is pushing back.