Switzerland-based commodity trader and miner Glencore has expressed interest in purchasing Shell’s oil assets in Nigeria, putting the company on the shortlist of consortiums that may bid on a stake in four oil blocks.
Glencore has confirmed its interest in bidding for stakes owned by Shell, France’s Total SA and Italy’s Eni in four oil blocks in Nigeria worth around $3 billion.
"We are always interested in every assets that comes for sale. We always look at it and check if we can satisfy our returns criteria," Glencore's chief executive Ivan Glasenberg said, when asked about the Nigerian assets at a presentation of results.
Struggling to fix its balance sheet and recoup losses in Nigeria, Shell is seeking to divest a 30% stake in four oil blocks, while Total and Eni also looking to divest their 10% and 5% stakes, respectively. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owns the remaining 55%.
Shell reported disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, posting a 71% decline in net-profit, as well as a 5% decline in oil production in 2013, largely due to instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Shell is also selling the 97-km Nembe Creek oil pipeline, which has been regularly attacked by oil thieves. Most recently, it was forced to shut down this pipeline in late February to stop leakage from theft.
Shell had already spent $1.1 billion in 2010 to fix this pipeline. The head of Shell’s Nigerian unit said last year that attacks on the pipeline meant that “more than 60,000 barrels of oil are being stolen a day, resulting in frequent production slowdowns and massive oil spills blighting the ecosystem.”
Theft of crude oil from Nigeria’s pipelines is again surging. Nigeria’s oil output dropped to the lowest in four years early this year as repeated theft and consequent pipeline shutdowns took its toll on crude oil exports. Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance estimates that as much as 400,000 barrels of crude a day are being stolen. The country lost about $7 billion in oil revenue in 2012 due to the activities of oil thieves, according to Oilprice.com sources in Abuja and Lagos.
Shell has sold off $1.8 billion in assets in Nigeria since 2010.
According to Reuters, Glencore--together with Macquarie Group--had also made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Shell's downstream Australian assets, which instead went to oil trader Vitol and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council for about $2.2 billion last month.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com