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Nigeria launches oil production from a new field in the Niger Delta region, aiming to increase crude output at Africa’s leading oil producer by 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of May.

The upstream subsidiary of the Nigerian national oil company, NNPC Exploration and Production Limited, and Natural Oilfield Services Ltd (NOSL), a subsidiary of Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Company Ltd (SEEPCO), announced on Sunday the successful start of oil production at Oil Mining Lease (OML) 13 in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

Production began on May 6 with 6,000 barrels of oil and is expected to be ramped up to 40,000 barrels per day by May 27, 2024, NNPC said in a statement.

“For Nigeria, the first oil from OML 13 holds some significance as it contributes to the country’s efforts to increase its oil production capacity, which is crucial for meeting domestic energy needs and driving economic growth,” the company added.

Nigeria is looking to boost its oil production in the coming years to generate more value for its economy, which is still very much reliant on oil exports.

Last week, Nigeria launched a new oil and gas licensing round, inviting bids for as many as 12 onshore and offshore blocks and promising transparency in the bidding process.

At the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) announced the start of the 2024 licensing round.

International majors have shrunk their exposure to Nigeria’s energy sector in recent years, with transparency in the licensing rounds being one of the reasons for Big Oil to divest from their Nigerian assets, on top of oil theft and frequent pipeline damages that lead to force majeure on crude oil exports.

In recent months, Nigeria has actively sought to address these concerns. Gbenga Komolafe, the chief executive of NUPRC, stated in Houston that this year’s licensing round is anticipated to be highly successful for Nigeria. It marks a significant stride towards increasing the nation’s oil and gas reserves through vigorous exploration and development endeavors, enhancing production, and broadening opportunities for gas utilisation.