By Hector IGBIKIOWUBO
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) today agreed to transfer its interest in three production licences and related equipment in the Niger Delta to a consortium led by two Nigerian companies, adding however that the transfer was subject to government approval.
A statement released yesterday in Lagos by SPDC served notice that Total E&P Nigeria Ltd and Nigeria Agip Oil Company will also transfer their interest in the three oil mining leases.
The planned transfer of the leases has been in the news for a while with government through the NNPC indicating such transfer can only take place with regulatory approval.
â€œThis sale of assets supports the Nigerian governmentâ€™s goal of expanding opportunities for local energy companiesâ€, said Mutiu Sunmonu, Managing Director SPDC.
â€œWe have been in Nigeria for more than 50 years and remain committed to doing business here. This transaction should be seen in the context ofÂ Shellâ€™s active portfolio management of its assets and interests across the world.â€
The agreement covers Shellâ€™s 30 per cent interest in oil mining leases 4, 38 and 41 covering approximately 2,650 square kilometres in the north western Niger Delta.
The buyer is Seplat Petroleum Company Limited, aÂ Nigerian company jointly held by two Nigerian firms, Platform Petroleum Limited and Shebah Petroleum Development Company Ltd, along with Maurel & Prom of France.
The agreement is subject to the approval of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
SPDC is the operator of the joint venture between NNPC (55%), Shell (30%), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10%), and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (5%).
The area includes about 30 wells with a production capacity of approximately 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The wells also produce natural gas for domestic and industrial use. Crude production is currently shut down awaiting completion of repairs to an export pipeline damaged in late 2008.
It would be recalled that the SPDC operated joint venture has lost billions of dollars in the last three years owing to shut in production resulting from heightened militancy in the Niger Delta.
However, since the proclamation of amnesty for militants there has been a very sharp decline in hostage taking, arson and crude oil production has recorded dramatic increase.
Royal Dutch Shell plc is a leading global energy company whose subsidiaries employ 102,000 people and operate in more than 100 countries and territories.
Shell engages in the exploration and production of oil and natural gas, the refining and marketing of transportation fuels and other oil products, the production of chemicals and the development of renewable energy.