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OML 119: NNPC probes oil bloc bids

Sequel to the disqualification of four companies bidding for the financing and redevelopment of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 119, a twin offshore block made up of Okono and Okpoho fields located approximately 50 kilometres offshore south-eastern Niger Delta, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has begun probing all the tendered bids in order to ensure probity and accountability as well as ward off sharp practices within the system.

This has however led to fears and uncertainties among the firms jostling for the oil deal as many of them have become jittery, not sure of the fate that will befall them, after four of the bidding firms suffered ‘technical’ disqualifications.

Checks by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the remaining 10 companies, out of the 14 bidding firms became jittery after the four disqualified companies were announced to be technically deficient in their proposals. This is because the leadership of the NNPC is insisting that only qualified firms would be announced as winners and that no amount of lobbying and underhand tactics would give undue advantage to unfit companies over and above the competent firms.

The ill-fated bids submitted by the four companies during an open bid round penultimate Friday, could not fly after a preliminary screening showed that the firms could not meet up with the financial requirement for the funding agreements. The OML 119 is operated by the upstream subsidiary of the corporation, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company Limited (NPDC).

According to a highly placed source within the oil giant, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, had recently notified the failed firms of their deficiency while opening bids from the 14 companies for the financing and redevelopment of the OML 119.

“As we speak, four of the 14 bids cannot fly because, even from the preliminary screening, they have been technically knocked out for their inability to meet up with the financial requirements for the financing deal”, a source close to the deal told Saturday Telegraph.

Noting that the development have sent jitters down the spines of the other 10 bidders, the source maintained that the NNPC “conducted an open bid because of its resolve to ensure that only those who are genuinely qualified are al- lowed to secure the deals.”

Noting that OML 119 is a very critical project for the corporation, the source maintained that the scrutiny is in line with international best practices, which will help the NNPC determine the company that is best suited for the job. “The probe of the bids will not only reveal any sharp practise that might have been buried in the contract proposals, it will also give the NNPC a further assurance that the oil deal is being handled by qualified firms.

“The GMD and his leadership team are very serious about this matter. No company that is not qualified would be announced. That era has passed. It won’t happen for an unfit coy to carry out the project. I can assure you that only qualified bids would be announced as winners”, he said.

Speaking at the public opening of bids for the Funding and Technical Services Entity (FTSE) which held penultimate Friday in Abuja, the GMD had also confirmed that OML 119 was one of the corporation’s critical projects.