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Nigeria - Applying for Oil Prospecting Licence(OPL)

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In Nigeria, oil exploration is governed by the Petroleum Act, and the right to grant licenses is upon the Minister of Petroleum.The Ministry of Petroleum Resources is responsible for petroleum affairs, in respect of which it co-ordinates all related policies, manages the petroleum resources, and administers the relevant laws and regulations.

The Ministry, in addition, supervises the activities of all the executive organs of the public sector of the oil industry, the governments interests and investments in the industry, as well as co-operating with other relevant government ministries in an advisory capacity.

Procedure to obtain a Oil Prospecting License,

The steps to Obtain Oil prospecting Licenses in Nigeria
Step one

This stage involves making an application on the headed paper of your company to the minister of petroleum resources requesting for oil Prospecting license or lease indicating the sufficient technical knowledge and experience, and sufficient financial resources to effectively operate Oil exploration.

Step two

Take the copy of the application and person payee ID to the nearest designated bank to pay for the registration and Application form. There is an option to pay online with your ATM card or Paypal.

Step Three

After, Attach all the necessary document which include:

  • sufficient technical knowledge of Oil Prospecting
  • Required experience in oil Prospecting ,
  • sufficient financial resources to effectively operate under the licence or lease.
  • The company reputation in the Field of oil
  • Profile and records of the Directors of the company,
  • Ownership of the Company and their passed performance record in the field of oil.
  • (company certificate of registration, profile of directors,Bank statement, Partnering organization or firm in exploration,Proof of technical experience from previous work in oil exploration, location of the Business,telephone contact, Email address or website of the business, Mission and objectives of the organization,Etc. proof of payment of registration.

Take you application to the department of petroleum resource Registration department.The Minister may grant Oil prospecting License upon satisfied with all submitted document and the reports.

Evidence of Financial Resources

For companies intending to obtain operator status there should be a letter from a bank indicating that the company is worth at least US $10,000,000.00 or N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) or in the case of a Nigerian company with technical partner, they must have joint evidence of same amount.

  • There must be evidence also that the company has maintained an account balance of at least One Billion Naira or Ten Million United States Dollars for at least six months prior to the date of application
Evidence of Payments

This will include the payment of the application, bid processing, prying and data leasing fees.

Step Four
Evidence of Registration

Take your Filled application form to the Federal ministry of petroleum Resource department of registration for exploring oil center, alongside with the original copies of your company details, particulars of referees (a valid company license, insurance certificate, proof of ownership of the Business and certificate of competence) for verification. Here your Details and particulars of the organization will be uploaded into the database.

Step Five
Evidence of the Companys Technical Capability

Evidence of companys technical capacity, capability and track record with emphasis on experience and expertise in exploration, development and production.

  • The following documents must be attached to the application:
  • (a) Certificate of Incorporation
  • (b) Articles and Memorandum of Association

Step Six
Environmental Policies of applicant

Detailed environmental policies of the company should be stated with particular reference to environmental impact analyses.

Step Seven

After successful capturing of your details into the database, a temporary slip will be printed for you as a proof of your registration pending the readiness of your Application, for approval or rejection depending on the decision of the Petroleum Board.

When the Minister of Petroleum Resources is satisfied with all work done and the reports submitted by the licensee.Then he permits in writing the Department Petroleum Resource to grant a license of Oil prospecting to the Applicant. A license, to be known as an oil prospecting license, in prospect for petroleum; and is issued to the Applicant upon fulfilling the conditions and terms of the Federal ministry of Petroleum resources.

The company must be registered solely for Exploration and Production business.

After the petroleum Board decision You will receive an sms or a call or email notifying that your oil exploration license is ready for pickup at the Federal ministry of Petroleum resources where you registered.

Note 1

(1)The entire ownership and control of all petroleum in, under or upon any lands in Nigeria is vested in the Nigerian State. (2)This applies to all land in Nigeria (including land covered by water). The applicant should then apply to the state for a license of oil prospecting even if the Oil is in his own land.

This type of license or lease under the petroleum act is granted only to a company incorporated in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied Matters Act or any corresponding law. Therefor the applicant must make sure that the company seek to explore oil is situated in Nigeria.

Local Content

Government intends to make local content a compulsory item in the Bid Round. Local content refers to those activities (or part of them) in the proposed work programme which the applicant would mandate to the local content partner proposed by applicant and approved by Government.

The Holder of an prospecting License has an exclusive right to explore and prospect for petroleum within the boundaries of his/her license.

The duration of an oil prospecting licence is determined by the Minister, but should not exceed five years (including any periods of renewal.

The holder of an oil prospecting license may carry away and dispose of petroleum won during prospecting operations, subject to the fulfilment of obligations imposed upon him by or under the Act (including any special terms or conditions imposed under paragraph 34 of the Schedule) or by the Petroleum Profits Tax Act or any other law imposing taxation in respect of petroleum.

Note 2

Also, the Nigeria Minister of Petroleum has a right to revoke the licenses granted to oil exploration corporations operating in Nigeria.

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Required Documents[edit]

  • A completed Application Form
  • A copy of Certificate of Incorporation
  • A Certified true Copy of Memorandum and Articles of Association.
  • A Certified True copies of Form C.07/CAC2

Office Locations & Contacts[edit]

Please list down the office locations that can be approached for applying. External links can also be used for specifying office locations.

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Any company qualified under terms and conditions prescribed from time to time by the relevant Institutions is free to apply for the grant or award of a license, lease or contract, as the case may be, for the exploration and production of petroleum to the Management of Petroleum Resources.


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Related Videos[edit]

Videos explaining the procedure or to fill the applications. 
Attach videos using the following tag <&video type="website">video ID|width|height<&/video&> from external websites.
Please remove the "&" inside the tags during implementation.
Website = allocine, blip, dailymotion, facebook, gametrailers, googlevideo, html5, metacafe, myspace, revver, 
sevenload, viddler, vimeo, youku, youtube
width = 560, height = 340, Video ID = Can be obtained from the URL of webpage where the video is displayed.
e.g In the following url "" Video ID is "Y0US7oR_t3M". 

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  • Applicants must appear in person.
  • Applicant subjected to future evaluation by relevant division/ department
  • Company that fail to renew their permit for more than three years consecutive years have their Licence treated as new.

Required Information[edit]

  1. A copy of bank Draft
  2. A Copy of Current Tax Clearance Certificate.
  3. A VAT Certificate
  4. A Company Profile
  5. A comprehensive Staff List and Curriculum Vitea of the key Staff,
  6. A List of Equipments facility to the company.
  7. DRP Endorsed Request for Expatriate Quota
  8. Training Program for Nigerian Staff
  9. Registration by relevant for professional body
  10. A copy of technical agreement of MOU with Nigerian company/Department of Petroleum Resource Accredited laboratory.
  11. Current Workmen s compensation policy.

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Need for the Document[edit]

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the eleventh largest in the world, averaging 2.5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2004.

Despite its major problems of civil unrest, political instability, border disputes, corruption and poor governance, international oil companies have always seen Nigeria as an attractive area for upstream investment.

The Oil prospecting licence (OPL) confers on the licensee the exclusive right to explore for oil and gas within the area of the grant, and to carry away and dispose of the petroleum won and saved during its prospective operations.

The duration of an Oil prospecting License is determined by the Minister and does not exceed five years. The duration of Oil prospecting Licenses relating to production sharing contracts in the deep offshore and inland basin are determined by the Minister but with a minimum period of five years, which can be increased to ten years.

After the issue of a license and the payment of a significant signature bonus within a prescribed time period, the licensee has the exclusive right to explore and prospect for petroleum within the area covered by the license.

Oil prospecting license (OPL) may be transferred by assignment. However, an assignment can only be valid where the consent of the Minister of Petroleum Resources has first been obtained following the fulfillment of the relevant conditions.

General supervisory powers over all operations carried out under petroleum interests are vested in the Minister of Petroleum Resources. The Minister's powers of enforcement include:

  • Accessing at any time, oil exploration licence (OEL), oil prospecting licence (OPL) and oil mining lease (OML) areas, refineries and installations under the Petroleum Act 1969 (PA) to enforce the PA and all industry applicable regulations.

All the petroleum in Nigeria is vested in the Federal Government, whose sole responsibility it is to control the resources and only permit their exploitation under license, in accordance with the Petroleum Act 19.

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