Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said on Monday that it intended to sell some assets in Nigeria after announcing a slump in global profits blamed on oil theft and sabotage.
“Some licences are up for sale, this includes some pipelines. We have not confirmed the specific licences,” Simon Henry, Shell’s chief financial officer told AFP in an emailed statement.
No further details were disclosed about the sale but Henry added: “There is a lot of interest from Nigerian indigenous companies.
“We will divest the licences and operating responsibility for the pipelines, there is more than one, if we see a potential deal,” he added.
Crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism are major problems in Nigeria, with estimates that it costs the country some $6 billion (4.4 billion euros) in revenue per year.
Shell, Nigeria’s largest operator, has blamed repeated oil thefts and sabotage of key pipelines as the major cause of spills and pollution in the oil-producing Niger Delta region in the southeast of the country.
Thieves are known to tap pipelines to siphon crude for sale on the lucrative black market, while such illegal activity can lead to explosions, fires and oil pollution.
Shell’s Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) in the restive southern Ogoniland region has been repeatedly vandalised in recent months, leading to a reduction in the company’s daily output.
Industry sources say Shell appears willing to shift more of its focus offshore, where the threat of sabotage and theft is far lower.
Last month, Shell announced a drop of 35 percent in its third quarter net profits because of lower refining margins and disruption to production in Nigeria.
Profit after tax fell by a third to $4.677 billion in the three months to September 30 compared with the equivalent period in 2012, it said.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer, accounting for more than two million barrels per day.