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OML 46: Senate panel probes oil coys over Atala oil field

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has launched an investigation into the award of the Oil Mining License (OML) 46 to Halkin…

The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has launched an investigation into the award of the Oil Mining License (OML) 46 to Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited by the defunct Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The probe was sequel to a petition brought before the Senate dated October 5, 2021, by Daniel Chukwudozie, on behalf of Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited (HONL), against the DPR.

During an investigative hearing, representative of Hardy Oil, Barr Ike Onwuchuluba, told the Senate panel that OML 46, called Atala Marginal Oil Field, was formerly managed by the trio of Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL), Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited and Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL).

He said the oil field was revoked by DPR from its previous managers and allegedly re-awarded in breach of due process to Halkin, which claimed that it had invested $60 million in OML 46 and executed a Farm-In Agreement with BOCL.

“They did not invest any $60m in the field, did not execute any Farm-in Agreement with BOCL and that Halkin Exploration and Production Company Limited secured OML 46 under false pretense and misrepresentation”, Barr Onwuchuluba added.

He further said the trio had been producing and paying royalties to other federation accounts, and that as at the time the field was revoked, the JV-partners had an outstanding 20,700 barrels of crude on the site.

The managing director of Halkin oil firm, Mr Charles Dorgu, said he was sick and urged the Senate committee to give him two weeks to come up with his defence to the allegations.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, thereafter, directed the MD of Halkin to provide documented evidence of how the shares were acquired and evidence of the $60million investment.

He also directed the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to interface with the oil firms involved, look into the matter critically and report back to the committee in two weeks.

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