Nigerian Government Proposes Swift Exit Plan for Oil Giants, Shell and Exxon Mobil, Tied to Oil Spill Cleanup

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The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has initiated discussions aimed at expediting the departure of major oil companies, such as Shell and Exxon Mobil, from the Niger Delta region. The proposal, presented by Gbenga Komolafe, head of NUPRC, during a meeting in Abuja, offers a shorter approval process if the companies agree to take responsibility for oil spills by conducting cleanups and compensating affected communities.


Alternatively, a longer-term option exists, requiring companies to await NUPRC’s identification and assignment of liabilities, potentially delaying final approval until August. The NUPRC seeks to balance facilitating a swift exit for major oil companies with safeguarding the environment, local communities, and the long-term sustainability of the region’s assets. Komolafe emphasized that companies opting for the shorter approval process would sign an undertaking acknowledging their obligations. The exit of major oil companies is expected to yield 26 onshore blocks, containing an estimated 13.76 billion barrels of oil, 2.70 billion barrels of condensate, and approximately 90,717 billion cubic feet of gas.


Komolafe stressed the importance of ensuring that companies taking over these blocks possess the necessary financial resources and technical expertise to manage them responsibly. The companies involved are currently reviewing the options presented and are expected to respond soon.


Backstory: In January, TotalEnergies announced plans to divest its minority stake in a significant Nigerian onshore oil joint venture, following Shell’s recent divestment. TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne cited the challenges of producing oil in the Niger Delta as a reason for the portfolio restructuring.


Additionally, Shell disclosed its agreement to sell its 30% stake in SPDC to a consortium primarily composed of local companies for up to $2.4 billion. Other international oil companies, including ExxonMobil and Norway’s Equinor, have also sold assets in Nigeria in recent years to concentrate on more profitable operations elsewhere.

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