By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s Nigerian unit said it will work with the country’s government to resolve “confusion” about the status of three oil leases following a media report they have been canceled.
Oil leases 67, 68 and 70, which together produce 580,000 barrels of crude a day, were nullified by Nigerian Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in a March 4 letter to Exxon Mobil, Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper reported today.
Exxon Mobil “will vigorously protect the rights it acquired in 2009,” Gloria Essien-Danner, a company spokeswoman, said in by e-mail today. “We will work with the Minister of Petroleum Resources and other relevant government officials to resolve any confusion that may exist on this matter.”
Negotiations for 16 oil blocks operated by companies including Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. have been under way for two years. Exxon Mobil was the only energy company to have its licenses renewed when it signed a deal in November 2009 covering oil leases 67, 68 and 70. Shell and Chevron remain in talks with Nigeria on renewing their expired oil licenses. China National Offshore Oil Corp. had expressed an interest in taking over some of the permits, raising concern they wouldn’t be renewed.
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total SA and Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., which pumps about 90 percent of the country’s crude.
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