51 Oil Prospecting Licences (OPL) and Oil Mining Lease (OML) of different oil blocs have expired between 2010 and March 2017 and this is therefore threatening about $2 billion (N720 billion) in signature bonuses.
The House of Representatives has begun its investigation into leakages within the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in respect of ownership, distribution and authenticity of OML, OPL, relinquishment, signature bonuses and bidding process.
Another 85 OPL and OML will expire between April 2017 and 2029, according to upstream concession status obtained from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
Experts says the implication to the economy is that the country may not be able to benefit maximally from any oil block whose licence has expired and failure to renew the licences is robbing the country of several billions of unpaid signature bonuses.
According to Guardian, an oil-mining lease is usually granted only to the holder of an oil-prospecting licence (OPL), upon meeting set regulations, and the term of the licence shall not exceed 20 years, and may be renewed in accordance with the Petroleum Act.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said in its current oil and gas report that discretionary decision-making and lack of openness drove down competition and returns to Nigeria, including over $2 billion in unpaid signature bonuses.
None of the owners of the affected oil blocks were willing to respond to enquiries regarding the current status of their assets according to Guardian.
About 17 Niger Delta onshore OMLs belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) will expire in the next two years.
Shell has decided to be silent on whether they will renew the oil blocks at expiration by 2019 or relinquish interest.
The Corporate Media Relations Manager, Precious Okolobo, also remained silent on the possibility of Shell renewing its licences in 2019.
But Shell said in its yearly report and Form 20-F 2016, released at the weekend that of the Nigeria onshore proved reserves, 164 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) are expected to be produced before the expiry of the current licences, and 377 million boe beyond.
This means at the end of 2019, the company will either renew the expired licences or relinquish its stakes in the OMLs. The company had in the last two years engaged in divestment of assets in its onshore operations due to militancy and low oil prices.