Century Group, one of Nigeria’s multinational groups operating in energy and non-energy sectors recently announced the discovery of its first oil in Atala Field, a 34km2 farm out area, in OML 46 through one of its six main subsidiaries- Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL). Discovery of oil in this field is a major landmark because Atala field had lain unexplored for a long period of time.  The field is also rich in 9 hydrocarbon-bearing sands. This development is bound to improve the contribution of the marginal field’s sphere of the Nigerian Petroleum sector.

The Atala field is one of the marginal fields that were awarded to Bayelsa Oil Company Limited (BOCL) in 2003. In 2010, Century Exploration and Production Limited (CEPL) entered into a partnership with the Bayelsa Oil Company to develop the field. 4 years after that bond, oil has been discovered. The Atala-1 discovery well was first drilled in approximately 6kms inland from the coast in 1982 by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Marginal field operators account for 2.54 per cent of the country’s total crude production, totalling 5.27 million barrels out of the total crude oil production of the period which stands at 207.1 million barrels. Figures from this year (2014) would prove that operators of marginal fields have built their reserves from 141 million barrels in 2004 to a sum of 302.6 million barrels in the first quarter. Attractive figures, but these figures can be even more appealing.

Very few operators are successful at funding explorations as funding an exploration is no small feat.  Some of the few successful operators have been reported to have indigenous operators act as a front for foreign investors, who buy up all the assets at the end. A lack of financial capacity and the uncertainty surrounding the feasibility of most existing marginal fields awarded to indigenous operators are some reasons why only 24 out of the 31 marginal fields which were awarded about 10 years ago are possibly not operational.

The General Secretary, PENGASSAN, Mr. Bayo Olowoshile corroborates this when he said, “The fact that only eight out of the 27 marginal fields allocated since 2003 to indigenous investors are operating and barely contributing about 27,700 barrels of oil per day. This is about 2.5 per cent of Nigeria’s crude oil production and about 35 million standard cubic feet per day of gas, make the 31 oil fields at stake to be less attractive,”

Century Group is one of the few companies overcoming the impossible odds of marginal fields.

Since the company was founded, it has strived to contribute its quota to indigenous participation in the Nigerian Oil and Gas sector. Century Group has continued to work without fail towards the development of its financial and technical capacity where exploration and production is concerned. The Group has a deliberate agenda focused on developing new businesses, industrial growth, skill development and job creation. The acquisition of an equity and participatory interest in the Atala field, in OML 46, in partnership with the Bayelsa Oil company Limited (BOCL), emphasises even further the company’s commitment to this and to the comprehensive, long term, economic development strategy by Bayelsa State Governor- Seriake Dickson.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration has been committed to the Oil & Gas sector with a determination to boost the participation of indigenous companies in the upstream sector, and, to equally increase exploration and production activities in the Oil & Gas sector which will benefit Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.

Despite challenges facing the oil and gas sector, such as oil thefts, foggy state of fiscal and non-fiscal provisions of the impending PIB, pipeline sabotage and security challenges, some indigenous companies remain resolute in their effort to invest in the upstream sphere of Oil & Gas.

With CG’s find, CG will join eight other companies with active and productive marginal fields out of the 24 marginal fields awarded in 2003. These companies are: Platform Petroleum, owner of Asuokpu/Umutu field; Walter Smith and Morris Petroleum, owners of the Ibigwe field; Frontier Oil, owner of the Uquo field; Britania-U, owners of Ajapa field; Midwestern Oil and Gas and Suntrust, owners of Umusadege field, and, Pillar Oil, owner of Obodogwa/Obodeti field.


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