June 18, 2018 / 3:28 PM / 2 years ago

Exclusive: Vitol-led group in talks to buy Nigeria assets from Petrobras - sources

LONDON (Reuters) - A consortium led by top oil trader Vitol has entered exclusive talks to acquire stakes in Nigerian offshore fields that are held by Brazil’s Petrobras (PETR4.SA) and its partners, industry sources said.

FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured in front of the Vitol Group trading commodities building in Geneva October 4, 2011. Picture taken October 4, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The assets are estimated to be worth up to $2.5 billion, the two banking sources and one industry source told Reuters.

The buyers are talking to state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, which is leading the sale, the sources added. bit.ly/2tjCAKu

The buying consortium comprises Vitol, Vancouver-based Africa Oil (AOI.TO) and Delonex Energy, an Africa-focused oil company backed by private equity fund Warburg Pincus and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Delonex, Petrobras and Vitol declined to comment. Africa Oil did not respond to a request for comment.

The Vitol-led group emerged as winners from a number of groups that bid for the assets in its initial two rounds, which included rival commodity trader Glencore.

Heavily indebted Petrobras launched the sale of Petrobras Oil & Gas BV, or Petrobras Africa, in which it holds 50 percent, as part plans to offload $21 billion in assets through 2018.

The sale, announced last year, includes the 40 percent stake of Petrobras Africa held by a subsidiary of Grupo BTG Pactual SA and the 10 percent holding owned by Helios Investment Partners.

Scotiabank is running the sale process with Evercore, according to the sale document.

The deal would offer the consortium a stake in some of Nigeria’s largest and lowest-cost fields. Vitol is expected to shoulder the largest part of the investment, spending an estimated $1 billion, according to one source.

Petrobras Africa has stakes in two offshore blocks, known as OMLs, that contain two producing fields. The Agbami field in OML 127 is operated by an affiliate of U.S. firm Chevron (CVX.N) and the Akpo field in OML 130 is operated by Total SA (TOTF.PA).

The Agbami oilfield is the main prize, producing about 240,000 bpd of light, sweet crude. Petrobras Africa holds a 12.5 percent stake in the field, Statoil has 20.2 percent and Chevron holds a 67.3 percent stake.

The Akpo field produces nearly 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) of condensate and Total is also due to start production at the Egina development in OML 130 later this year.

Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Edmund Blair

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