LAGOS — Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO, yesterday, bemoaned inability of banks in the country to fund large oil and gas transactions, saying that all the companies that bought its divested interests had to source their financing from banks outside the country.
This was contrary to claims by banks in the country of their ability to fund such transactions, bringing to the fore the huge amount the country is losing in capital flight in terms of interest paid on the loans.
Speaking at a Deepwater interactive workshop, Mr. Taaj Shobayo, Commercial Integration and Business Value Manager, SNEPCO, said Nigerian banks are indisposed to lending to oil companies, especially companies engaged in deepwater oil field production.
According to him, this has made oil companies in Nigeria to source funds from banks overseas.
He blamed the development on the short term focus of Nigerian banks, especially their lack of capacity to finance projects with longer gestation period.
He said, “financing for oil projects are sourced overseas. Companies that bought our assets secured their funds overseas.
“The choice of offshore funding is because of the long lead time of deepwater oil field projects. Nigerian banks cannot wait for such long period before recouping their funds.”
He, however, highlighted the cost intensive nature of deep water projects, saying about $960 million is expended between exploration and production.
He noted that it takes between 10 to 50 years from the award of licence to actual production, a factor which has made it difficult for local financial institutions to finance such projects.
However, unless Nigerian banks change their strategy, the country might lose further as Mr. Chike Onyejekwe, Managing Director, SNEPCO, said international oil companies are set to invest about $165 billion in the Nigerian oil and gas industry in the next five years, which is twice the value of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Onyejekwe, further disclosed that Nigeria has recorded about $48 billion investments in deepwater oil field projects across the country since 1993.
He said this investment is a pointer to the enormous opportunities presented by deepwater fields, especially in growing Nigeria’s economy.
He further stated that Shell has recorded tremendous success in its Bonga deepwater oil field, saying as at December 2012, it has exported about 450 million barrels of crude oil. In the same year, Shell produced about 33 percent of Nigeria’s oil production.
He added that the company is considering acquiring another FProduction, Storage and Offloading () vessel to help in production in its Bonga South West field.