* NNPC funding problems holding back oil projects
* Exxon and NNPC joint venture has 550,000 bpd oil capacity
By Joe Brock and Emma Farge
ABUJA/GENEVA, May 23 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s state-oil company and a local unit of Exxon Mobil plan to tap the bond market by 2016 to fill a funding shortfall in developing oil exploration projects, the companies have said.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owns at least 50 percent in several joint ventures with oil majors such as Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon and Chevron but often fails to meet its share of project funding.
Oil majors say NNPC’s lack of financing is one of the biggest brakes on progress in Africa’s largest oil industry, which produces over 2 million bpd of oil and holds the world’s ninth biggest gas reserves.
“NNPC is meeting with her joint venture partner (Exxon) to brainstorm on alternative sources of funding such as bond markets to enhance revenue,” NNPC’s Finance Director Bennard Otti was quoted as saying in a notice on the company’s website.
Exxon’s local unit Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) and the NNPC operate a joint venture with a capacity of over 550,000 barrels per day of crude oil, condensate and gas liquids. MPN has a 40 percent stake with NNPC holding the other 60 percent.
The joint venture will use external financing options from 2013-2015 but will access the bond market by 2016, MPN’s Chief Financial Officer Segun Banwo was quoted as saying.
An NNPC spokesman gave no details on how much would be raised or which bond markets would be tapped.