LAGOS Oct 10 Shell Nigeria is putting up for sale four onshore Niger Delta oil blocks with a combined production of around 70,000 barrels per day (bpd), two industry sources said on Thursday, the latest move by an oil major to divest assets from the area.
Shell is one of several oil majors selling off fields in the swampy delta, where production on some fields is peaking and operations are plagued by rampant oil theft and fraught community relations owing partly to frequent spills.
It plans to sell oil mining licenses (OMLs) 18, 24, 25 and 29, the sources said. The Anglo-Dutch company said in June that it planned a strategic review of its eastern delta assets.
Shell Nigeria spokesman Precious Okolobo said that "the review is ongoing and therefore we are not in a position to confirm which, if any, blocks may be put up for sale."
"Nigeria remains an important part of Shell's portfolio, where we will continue to have a significant onshore presence in oil and gas," he added in an emailed response to Reuters.
Since 2010 Nigeria has had a policy of encouraging more direct ownership of its oil and gas by Nigerians, either through the state oil company or local private firms. That has raised concerns among foreign oil majors they may lose smaller assets if they do not sell now, industry experts say.
Four years after militant attacks against oil companies in the delta ended with an amnesty, they remain a major target for oil thieves, whom Chatham House says stole 100,000 barrels a day in the first quarter of this year.
U.S.-based Chevron Corp is considering bids this week from prospective buyers of three oil blocks in the delta with total reserves of around 134 million barrels.
Africa's biggest oil producer usually pumps 2 million to 2.5 million barrels per day of oil, most of which is exported.