The federal government lost an estimated $6 billion as a result of the Department of Petroleum Resources' (DPR) poor administration of the expiring oil blocks, which were sold by the international oil companies (IOCs) between 2010 and 2015 to local firms, Nigerian exploration and production (E&P) operators have said.
The Nigerian operators have, however, stated that all hope is not lost, as the country could earn over $3 billion from the next wave of asset sales if the DPR manages the outstanding onshore oil blocks set to expire soon properly.
DPR has also admitted that it was not prepared to develop the necessary guidelines for the asset divestment programme by the IOCs, as the exercise came as a "shock" to the agency, pointing out that it has learnt some lessons for future exercise.
In the first acquisitions by Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc and First Hydrocarbon Nigeria in 2010, the IOCs raked in $471 million.
The IOCs were also paid $3.979 billion in the second divestment exercise between 2011 and 2012 by Eland Oil, Starcrest, Neconde Energy, Heritage Oil, Shoreline Energy, ND Western and Oando Energy Resources.
Under the last divestment programme between 2014 and 2015, the IOCs smiled away with $5.954 billion from Seplat, Erotron E&P, Newcross Petroleum, Crestar Integrated Natural Resources, Aiteo Group, Taleveras, Tempo Energy, Belemaoil, West African E&P, and First E&P.
But speaking in Lagos recently at the maiden edition of the Aspen Energy Roundtable, the Nigerian independents argued that 60 per cent of the $10.404 billion paid by the local operators to acquire assets from the IOCs would have gone into the federal government treasury if the DPR had better managed the licences covering the divested oil blocks.
In a keynote speech, the chief executive of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Mr. Austin Avuru stated that 70 per cent of the money used to acquire the assets came from Nigerian bankstopics from