By Hector Igbikiowubo & Clara Nwachukwu

Houston Texas (USA)— The Shell Group has decried what it described as a “misrepresentation of intentions” with regard to its portfolio restructuring and assets divestment in Nigeria.

Managing Director, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sumonu, who spoke in Houston Texas, USA, at a Joint ANPPA PETAN Technical Workshop, at the ongoing Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, insisted it is a deliberate measure to indigenous participation in the upstream oil and gas industry.

He explained: “We want to create a new set of indigenous players in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry within the next 10 to 20 years from now, while the international oil companies, IOCs concentrate on more difficult issues and also allowed us to focus on material oil and gas fields.”

But analysts believe that the assets divestment is a subtle way the Anglo Dutch oil giant is adopting to finally exit from Nigeria, in view of previous onslaught by militants in the oil rich Niger Delta, which affected a substantial amount of its crude oil production.

To this Sunmonu said: “Unfortunately, there is a lot misrepresentation of our intension in Nigeria. Some companies are saying that Shell wants to leave Nigeria, and if Shell leaves what other jobs will they do?”

According him, what Shell is doing, is merely restructuring its port folio by divesting from small oil fields, which he noted was not a strange practice globally, as “this is also happening in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the North Sea as well as other regions in the world.”

Besides, he noted, the assets divestment is only about 10 percent of its oil production, adding that this notwithstanding, “Shell will still be able to produce more even from lesser fields where we are investing heavily in.”

Sunmonu, however argued that what ever investments Shell and the IOCs are making depend on policy stability, noting that, “if the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, is not passed on time, it will create a huge cloud of uncertainty in the industry.”

Against this backdrop, he expressed joy that the PIB would be passed before the expiration of the tenure of this administration, as promised by the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke, who had earlier reassured the audience of Federal Government’s commitment to ongoing reforms in the industry.

Furthermore, the Shell boss expressed pleasure with other government initiatives such as the passage of the Nigerian Content Act, the Gas Master Plan and the recently launched Gas Revolution, noting that all of these presented huge opportunities for the industry and the country at large.

He tasked the indigenous players to harness their resources and pull their synergies, in other to make a success in the industry, as the sector is very risky and very high capital intensive, which called for complementary skills.

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