By Yemie Adeoye
FOLLOWING the furore that has trailed the sales of three of its onshore oilfields and the subsequent rumour making the rounds that it is probably wounding up its operations in Nigeria, the Shell Petroleum Development Company has reaffirmed its commitment to the country noting that it disposed the said assets in order to support local participation in the oil and gas industry.
This position was disclosed to energy correspondents in Lagos by the Managing Director and Country Chairman of Shell, Mr Mutiu Sumonu.
According to him the controversy which is trailing the asset sales need not arise as the move was
Only a fraction of the companyâ€™s assets in Nigeria and as such could never signal the exit of a multinational of Shellâ€™s standing from Nigeria.
â€œWe did it also ion support of the federal governments aspirations to support local participation in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, and as such people should see what we have done as a way of opening up local participation in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
It is part of our operation to continue to review all our assets all over the world in order to see which of our portfolios could be released to smaller companies for them to us operate.Â The only assets we have sold are these three assets in the Western Niger delta and they are just a fraction of our assets in Nigeria.â€
The oil boss further noted that this is not the first time that the company would be releasing acreages in Nigeria. â€œIn the year 2000 we released some acreage, in the fourth quarter of last year we released, and weâ€™ve always done that whenever we deem it necessary in operations to do soâ€.
â€œAll the speculations about shell wanting to leave Nigeria or that the sale of assets is because of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) are baseless.Â I can tell you up-front that there is absolutely no truth in those speculations. We did not sell the assets because of PIB, absolutely not! Neither did we sell it as a precursor for closing down shop in Nigeria.
If you look at the asset we sold, in terms of materiality to our resource base, its insignificant and just less than 5 percent. So it is not something that can give an indication that Shell is about to fold up.Â We have invested a lot of money in Nigeria, we still have a huge resource base, and weâ€™re determined to stay there in the long run.
Inspite of all the challenges of funding, of insecurity, we will still hang in there, believing that the entire oil and gas i8ndustry will receive a better future.Â It is a well known vision of government that it wants to open up the industry especially to indigenous players, and frankly speaking if there is only one company that has the ability to support government in that direction it would be Shell.
It could be that this kind of transaction is new in a place like Nigeria but it is routine ion the global oil and gas industry, people swoop assets, they sell, they buy, even as recently as December-January, Shell bought assets in Gabon, so this is really a norm in the upstream petroleum industryâ€. He enthused.
â€œYou people should also note that Shell has quite a vast and rich portfolio and from time to time we continue to review our portfolio, we look at assets which we probably feel are better seeded to smaller companies to incorporate or which we believe have synergy with other operators than ourselves and you try and manage that as part of our overall portfolio management actions”, he said.