Exxon and Chevron selling assets in Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria as U.S. companies retreat to shale projects

The Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons in Equatorial Guinea, Mr. Gabriel Obiang Lima, announced on Sunday that Exxon Mobil Corp. was in talks to sell its oil assets in the central African nation.

Exxon and Chevron Corp. are also selling stakes in fields in Nigeria, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, followed by Angola, while Equatorial Guinea is a major player in central Africa, producing about 120,000 barrels of oil a day.

Speaking to reporters in the UAE on the sidelines of an oil and gas summit there, Mr. Obiang Lima said he was in talks with Exxon about a sale of its assets in Equatorial Guinea, including its operating stake in the Zafiro field. 

At 90,000 barrels a day, the field makes up the bulk of Equatorial Guinea’s 120,000 barrels a day output.

The central African oil minister said EXXON might be replaced there by a Russian company.

U.S. companies are said to be retreating to shale projects, even as Moscow strengthens its foothold in African resources.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a spokesman for Exxon as saying that the U.S. oil company is “providing information to third parties that may have an interest in these assets, but no agreements have been reached and no buyer has been identified.” 

The spokesman added that a potential transaction wouldn’t affect the company’s exploration activities in Equatorial Guinea.

WSJ said Exxon was considering selling the stakes as part of its plan to shed $25 billion of assets world-wide as it turns its focus to larger projects.

“Many of these investments are in U.S. shale, which has led to an unprecedented production boom in the U.S. and a reduction in exposure in Africa and other riskier places,” WSJ noted.

Marathon Oil Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. have also sold their stakes in Libya in recent years.

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