Nigeria opened the bidding Friday in an auction of 78 oil exploration blocks in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, the creeks of the Niger Delta and the inland basin near Lake Chad in its far north east. About 380 foreign and Nigerian firms are participating in the licensing round either as individuals or in a consortium, the director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, Tony Chukwueke, told the opening session of the event.
The bid program indicates that any block not sold on Friday will be put on offer again Saturday with the bidders having equal right to participate in the second round.
Junior oil minister Edmund Daukoru had said that Nigeria's first deep water offshore oilfield will begin production next month and by next year it will help to ease supply shortages that have pushed world prices to near record levels. Nigeria is already Africa's biggest oil producer, with exports of around 2.5 million barrels per day, and supplies more than ten percent of the United States' crude imports.
Oil majors have made massive investments in deep offshore development and hope that within five years, when more new fields begin production, exports could pass four million barrels.