Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nigeria: Tension Mounts Over Shell Oil Bloc


Lagos/Abuja — The energy sector of the Nigerian economy may not be the same again as Nigerian business tycoons - Mike Adenuga, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola, who are among those in stiff contest to clinch 30 per cent stake in some oil blocks offered for sale by Shell Petroleum Development and Production Company (SPDC) and its partners - continue to map out strategies to outwit one another.

It was reported yesterday that Adenuga's Conoil Producing submitted a bid of $650 million each for two Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 30 and 42, while Dangote Group offered $600 million for Shell's 30 per cent stake in the OML 30.

Otedola's African Petroleum (AP) was also reported to have submitted a bid of $515 million for the same OML 30, while a consortium of Addax Oryx and Perenco and Oando Plc is bidding for SPDC's stake in OML 42, which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is also bidding for.

Shell and its partners - Total Exploration and Production Limited and Nigeria Agip Oil Company - recently offered some onshore fields located in the Southern Niger Delta for sale to interested investors.

The onshore blocks included OMLs 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42, some of which, sources said, contain reserves of up to 2 billion barrels.

Also to be sold with the oil blocks are the facilities located in the region where the industry had faced repeated militant attacks.

Although, the trio have refused to comment on the oil deals, saying any remark at this juncture could jeopardise their chances, LEADERSHIP gathered that since the business moguls submitted their bids, there have been several strategic meetings geared towards repositioning their companies for the much awaited oil blocks sale.

For instance, it was gathered that while some of the companies were shopping for funds locally and offshore, one of them has commenced talks with its foreign partners with a view to discussing how value could be added if the company eventually won the bid.

About 18 consortia were said to have expressed interests in some of the oil fields.

The oil giant had selected a few local companies in among about 30 that submitted expressions of interest in the deal.

To qualify, the bidders, it was learnt, had to prove they had financial and technical means to implement a development plan for the oil fields, some of which had been shut down for years.

In the list of interested bidders were oil industry services group Petrofac, which joined forces with Nigerian gas firm, Seven Energy, to bid for one of the blocs; London-listed oil group Afren Plc, Midwestern Oil, and Gas and Niger Delta Petroleum Resources.

A recent report revealed that Nat Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty, was backing one group of bidders, while Russian gas giant, Gazprom, was said to be leading a bid with Nigerian resources firm Equinox Group.

Sources said Shell's partners would have to approve the disposal of any of the assets.

SPDC is the operator of the joint venture in Nigeria between the NNPC (55 per cent), Shell (30 per cent), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10 per cent), and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (5 per cent).

Meanwhile, the federal government has saved the sum of N12 billion in the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS).

Minister of finance, Olusegun Aganga disclosed this yesterday while flagging off IPPIS Phase 2/ Sensitisation and Change Management workshop held in Abuja.

He said the federal government policy objective was to block all leakages in the payroll system, stressing the need to avoid a situation that sees an expansion in recurrent expenditure to the detriment of the competing needs.
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With 16 pilot MDAs in the scheme, the finance minister said the government saving was in excess of N12 billion.

"These savings represent the difference between releases to MDAs based on their nominal roll submissions before their enrolment into IPPIS and the actual salary paid through IPPIS after the exercise. This programme is so critical to our fiscal reform program that I have made it clear that its implementation is not only accelerated, but expanded to cover all MDAs and parastatals. I have every confidence in the team led by Mrs Nana Fatima Mede to deliver on time. I will be monitoring the progress personally and will provide the support required," the minister said.

Noting that the focus on IPPIS was not just on savings, he maintains that it was also on increasing the efficiency in management of public funds and ease to the beneficiaries, including third party stakeholders like Cooperative Societies, Unions, Pension Fund Administrators and Tax Authorities.

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