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Nigeria scraps signature bonuses to lure investment in oil sector


In a move aimed at stimulating the oil industry, the Nigerian government, under the leadership of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, has announced the removal of signature bonuses from the bidding process for new oil blocs.

He disclosed this on the sidelines of the ongoing 2024 Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston, Texas.

Signature bonuses are upfront payments companies make to secure rights to explore and develop oil fields.

This decision comes amid concerns that the high cost of entry, due to signature bonuses, has deterred potential investors.

Minister Lokpobiri stated that the exemption aims to “attract fresh investments and ramp up oil output.”

The Minister, who urged investors to take the opportunity of the oil bid round to invest, also said, “Historically, no source of energy goes away. So, do not be deceived that fossil fuel will go away. Discourse at the recent global conferences has further proved that fossil fuel will continue to remain, the quicker we extract our oil, the better for us as a country.

“We are here at OTC to show the rest of the world that Nigeria is different and our government is different, in creating the best regulatory framework, allowing competitiveness, and removing all the investment barriers.

“Today, we are restoring investment confidence in the sector and ensuring investors can bring in their funds without worries. This will show to the world that Nigeria is ready for business.”

Announcing the removal of the signature bonus, Lokpobiri said over the years, payment of signature bonuses remained a huge bottleneck for investors as well as investment into the sector.

“Stakeholders had explained that globally, payable signature bonuses by awardees of an oil bloc or marginal field rank highest in Nigeria. On many occasions, the huge amount involved in payment of signature bonus was a setback for investors,’’ the minister added.

Previously, large upfront payments were seen as a barrier for new companies looking to enter the Nigerian oil market.

The hope is that by eliminating this hurdle, the government will incentivize a wider range of companies to participate in oil exploration, leading to a potential increase in oil production. Nigeria, a major oil producer in Africa, has seen its output decline in recent years.

However, some analysts caution that scrapping signature bonuses entirely might come at a cost.

Signature bonuses have traditionally provided the government with a significant upfront revenue stream.

The loss of this income source could potentially impact government budgets. Additionally, concerns exist that companies winning bids without a substantial initial investment might be less committed to the long-term development of the oil blocs.

Only time will tell if the Nigerian government’s gamble on scrapping signature bonuses will pay off. The oil industry will be closely watching to see if this policy change leads to a renewed influx of investment and a subsequent rise in oil production.

SOURCE: Ripples Nigeria