Eni to become latest energy giant to exit Nigerian onshore operations

(Reuters) -Italy’s Eni signed on Monday an agreement to sell its unit Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to Nigerian counterpart Oando, the group said in a statement, in the latest move by an energy giant out of the country.

Amid rampant oil theft from pipelines, perpetual clashes with communities and more focused exploration budgets, nearly all international oil majors, including Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp, are trying to sell their onshore assets in the country.

Eni’s NAOC, which focuses on oil and gas exploration and production, has interests in four onshore blocks and two onshore exploration leases in Nigeria, the group said.

“Eni reduces its exposure to a difficult region plagued by bunkering and other disruptions”, Jefferies commented in a note on Monday, adding that the group talks of a consideration of over $500 millions and solid metrics “considering the difficult location of these blocks”.

The sale has no impact on Eni’s forecasts, Jefferies added.

The deal is subject to local and regulatory authorisation. Similar approvals have been held back by legal and political issues in Exxon’s and Shell’s assets sales.

After the disposal of NAOC, in line with the firm’s 2023-2026 plan, Eni will retain the unit’s 5% stake in the Shell Production Development Company (SPDC) joint venture operated by Shell, the group added.

(Reporting by Alessandro Parodi; additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe and Libby George; editing by Gianluca Semeraro and Louise Heavens)