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Nigeria Plans to Sell 2 bn Barrels of Oil Reserves

Source: Reuters 2/2/2010, Location: Africa

Nigeria plans to sell oilfield assets this year containing as much as 2 billion barrels of reserves either relinquished by Western firms or unsold in three previous bidding rounds, the Financial Times said.

A bidding round for the assets, which could also include oil blocks not previously offered, may attract Asian groups and local companies, the newspaper said quoting Emmanuel Egbogah, special adviser to the president on petroleum matters.

"There will be a bid round this year that will include small fields," Egbogah was quoted as saying. "But there will be big ones as well, I would predict a couple of billion (barrels of reserves)."

Attacks by militants and disgruntled community members on the oil sector of Nigeria -- the fifth-largest crude supplier to the United States -- in the past few years have prevented the OPEC member from producing much above two-thirds of its capacity, costing it about $1 billion a month in lost revenues.

The last attack at the weekend came hours after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) ended a three-month old ceasefire and threatened to unleash "an all-out assault."

While MEND said the attack was the work of a militant group it backed, one security source, who declined to be identified, said the sabotage on Shell's pipeline, in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, might have been carried out by oil thieves trying to tap into it.

Political uncertainty has also hampered oil industry development. President Umaru Yar'Adua has been in the hospital in Saudi Arabia for more than two months but has failed to formally transfer powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, bringing the country to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

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