Under the Petroleum Act 1969, the Minister may award among others, an Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) and an Oil Mining Lease (OML) for petroleum developments. The OPL is usually a precursor to the OML and is granted for the exploration/prospecting phases of petroleum development. Once petroleum is discovered in commercial quantities, the OPL may be converted to an OML which is used for the development and production phase. The PIAB introduces the Petroleum Licence (PL) which combines the exploration/prospecting phase with the development and production phases. What happens to existing OPL and OML holders? The PIAB provides for transitional arrangements with respect to existing OPL and OML holders in section 177 (2) and (3). Under those provisions, all existing OPLs and OMLs may continue for the duration of their term and will be subject to the provisions of the PIAB on licences except for provisions on duration, relinquishment or work programmes with respect to OPLs. In addition, under section 4(1), boundaries of subsisting OPLs and OMLs shall remain unaltered until the end of their term.
Specifically, in the case of OPLs, section 177(3) provides that these licenses, at the end of their term and where eligible, would be converted to PLs to begin in the Production Period.