Nigerian oil regulator approves Eni, Equinor assets sale

Nigeria’s upstream oil regulator has approved two key onshore assets sale by international oil companies, clearing the way for Oando and new entrant Project Odinmim, to acquire assets, the head of the agency, Gbenga Komolafe, said on Wednesday.Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) greenlit deals by Eni’s local unit Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to Oando and Equinor to Project Odinmim, Komolafe announced at an energy conference in Abuja, the capital.The deals had been pending for months as they required sign-off from the petroleum minister under a recently enacted oil industry law. Approvals for Exxon Mobil’s US$1.3 billion asset sale to Seplat and Shell’s divestment to Renaissance remain pending.“The signing ceremony will be conducted in the next few days,” Komolafe said.

Eni had previously announced the sale of its NAOC subsidiary to Oando in September. The deal included interests in four onshore oil mining leases (OML) 60, 61, 62, and 63. However, Ainojie Alex Irune, Oando’s CEO, hinted at further complexities in the deals during the conference.
“We had four transactions; two were approved, one on a yellow flag and the other in abeyance,” he said. The NUPRC chief did not elaborate on the specific OMLs approved for Oando, and Irune did not provide further details.

Oil majors operating in Nigeria have been exiting their onshore fields hampered by theft, vandalism and pollution to focus on deepwater explorations. In May, the NUPRC offered faster approvals for pending asset sales by the majors if they took responsibility for spills and compensated communities rather than wait for authorities to apportion liability, which could lead to further delay deals.