* Oil majors increasingly moving out of onshore Nigeria
* Niger Delta plagued by insecurity, oil theft, spills
* Govt keen to encourage local ownership of oil assets
(Adds GT Bank comment in paragraph 7)
By Ron Bousso and Tim Cocks
LONDON/LAGOS, Aug 27 Royal Dutch Shell
said it had reached deals on some of the four Nigerian oil
fields it has offered for sale as the oil major pushes ahead
with divesting global assets to cut costs.
Shell last year put up for sale its 30 percent shares in
four oil blocks in the Niger Delta - Oil Mining Licences (OML)
18, 24, 25, 29 - as well as a major pipeline, the Nembe Creek
"We have signed sales and purchase agreements for some of
the oil mining leases, but not all that we are seeking to
divest," a Shell spokesman said on Wednesday.
In several rounds of divestments, Shell has been moving away
from Nigerian onshore oil, which is plagued by industrial scale
oil theft, security problems and oil spills, the latter having
become a growing legal liability for major oil companies.
Politics have also played a role. The government is keen to
put indigenous operators in charge of onshore oil extraction,
leaving the international majors to manage more difficult and
capital-intensive deep-water projects offshore.
Firms have also been hampered by uncertainty over the
particulars of an oil bill designed to overhaul the industry,
which has been stuck in parliament for two years and looks
unlikely to be passed before February 2015 elections.
Guaranty Trust Bank is among the banks
financing the deals. The CEO of the bank, Segun Agbaje, told an
investor conference call on Wednesday that two of them will
close within the next two months.
Other companies including Total, Eni, and
Chevron have also looked to dispose of assets.
ConocoPhillips sealed a $1.5 billion deal with Nigeria's
Oando last month.
No details were available on the value of the deals Shell
signed, nor when the full process would be completed. Oando's
deal with ConocoPhillips took more than 18 months to sign off.
France's Total and Italy's Eni are also set to raise revenue
from the sale of 10 percent and 5 percent stakes in the assets.
Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) is a Shell-run
joint venture 55 percent-owned by the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation, with the other 45 percent split between
Shell, Total and Eni.
The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that Shell was
close to selling the assets for about $5 billion to domestic
buyers, citing banking sources.
In March, Reuters reported that Nigerian firms Taleveras and
Aiteo had made the highest bid of $2.85 billion for OML 29, the
biggest of the four oil fields.
Two market sources said Aiteo had won that bid, although it
was not clear whether the two companies were still working as
partners. One banking source said Aiteo may have gone in without
A senior Taleveras official said the company could not
comment until Shell makes an announcement.
A senior Nigerian oil executive said a consortium headed by
Pan Ocean Oil Corporation had bid for OML 24 at a price of about
He said it worked out to about $10 per barrel of crude in
the ground, similar to Oando's deal, and that the price was
"high, especially considering the issues with the trunkline".
The banking source said Crestar had clinched OML 25. It
wasn't clear who had got OML 18, the sources said. The FT
reported it went to Eroton, a consortium of Midwest Oil and Gas
and Mart Resources.
Cement and food tycoon Aliko Dangote, Africa's richest man
with a fortune of some $20 billion, was among the bidders on the
blocks, although he didn't win anything, the sources said.
There is widespread speculation in the local market that
Shell is also seeking to offload OMLs 11 and 17 in Ogoniland,
where it has faced criticism from the United Nations Environment
Programme and human rights groups for failure to adequately
clean up decades of oil spills.
A Shell spokesman declined to comment on this.
Shell, along with many other oil majors, is undergoing a
broad process of asset sales across the world in an effort to
cut costs and boost profits.
(editing by Jane Baird, editing by David Evans)