(Adds quotes, context) By Julia Payne and Libby George ABUJA/LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has issued its 2016 crude oil term contracts to 21 companies, going directly to international refineries, trading houses and local downstream firms, according to a list obtained by Reuters. The contracts cover 991,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, worth $13.5 billion at current crude oil prices, which is roughly half of Nigeria's crude oil production of around 2 million bpd. The list includes refiners such as Spain's Cepsa, Italy's Saras, India's IOC and ENOC of the United Arab Emirates, as well as trading houses Trafigura, Mercuria and Vitol and international oil companies ENI, Total , Exxon and Shell. The remainder are Nigerian downstream and NNPC trading companies. In a statement, NNPC said: "Apart from ensuring transparency, the companies were carefully chosen based on their track records and trading experience to ensure that Nigerian crude cargoes are not left unsold." The list is pared down from the final 2015 contract list, which comprised 43 companies and did not include any global traders. Many of the mostly local companies included then were criticised by international watchdog groups, such as the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), as "unqualified intermediaries" who added little value. President Muhammadu Buhari is on a campaign to root out corruption in the NNPC and oil theft across the nation, which he assesses at about 250,000 bpd. During a televised launch of the contract process in October, when 278 companies submitting bids for crude oil contracts, NNPC officials promised to slash the number of winners and conduct business differently. "Things have changed in Nigeria," said one oil industry source close to the contract negotiations. "The process of tendering has been more transparent they want to work with more reputable companies." Oil traders said the inclusion of Exxon and Shell was also unusual. "It is the first time for both," one trader of West African oil said of direct contracts between Exxon, Shell and NNPC. "It seems to tie up with the drive to partner with end-users." NNPC's current managing director Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu is a former Exxon executive. The absence of China's Sinopec, and its trading arm Unipec, was also notable, as it is a large buyer of Nigerian oil and was on the 2015 contract list. Oil industry sources said there was another list of so-called "government" contracts with Nigeria's major partners yet to come, and many expected the company to be added at a later date. On Thursday, Kachikwu told reporters that Nigeria is producing 2.1 million bpd and aims to boost output to 2.4 million next year. Contract holder Volume ('000 bpd) Refiners Emirates National Oil 60 Company Indian Oil Corporation 60 Cepsa 60 Saras SPA 60 International Trading Companies Trafigura 32 Mercuria 32 Vitol SA 32 IOC Trading Companies ENI Shipping and Trading 32 Totsa SA 32 Exxon Sale and Supply 32 Shell Western Supply and 32 Trading Nigerian Downstream Companies Emo Oil & Petroleum/China 45 ZhenHuaOil Northwest Petroleum and 45 Gas Forte Oil PLC 45 Oando PLC 60 Sahara Energy Resouce LTD 60 A.A. Rano Nigeria Limited 45 Eterna Oil 45 MRS Oil and Gas 60 NNPC Trading Companies Calson/Hyson 32 Duke Oil Incorporated 90 Total: 21 991 (Additional reporting by Ron Bousso and Alex Lawler in London, editing by William Hardy and David Evans)
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