West African Countries Plan to Offer Blocks in June

Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe plan to begin offering blocks in the Gulf of Guinea in June of this year. The two countries have designated the Gulf of Guinea as the Joint Development Zone (JDZ), which is to be run by a Joint Development Authority (JDA) set up in January after they resolved a maritime border row. "It is the intention of the Joint Development Authority to proceed with the licensing of acreage this year," JDA chairman, Nigeria's Rilwanu Lukman, said at a news conference in Abuja.

"Agreements for the acquisition of speculative seismic data have been put in place," said Lukman, Nigeria's Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy and president of OPEC. "This data will be available to prospective investors by mid-year."

Guidelines for tender, tax and regulatory regime as well as details of production sharing contracts will be issued before the licensing round opens, Lukman said. Resources in the JDZ, a buffer zone between the two countries, will be shared in the ratio of 60 percent to Nigeria and 40 percent for Soa Tome and Principe, Lukman said. The treaty will last 45 years with a review after 30 years. "The Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone offers one of the best investment opportunities in the oil and gas industry today," Lukman said. "It has high prospectivity acreage that is within the reaches of today's technology."