Bloomberg News

Nigeria Aims to Renew Licenses Within Six Weeks, Minister Says

December 14, 2011

Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, aims to complete the renewal of shallow water oil licenses for operators including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. within six weeks.

“In the next four to six weeks we will be finalizing all issues of shallow water renewals,” Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said today in Vienna, where she was attending the meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The Nigerian government has been in talks with overseas operators on oil blocks since 2009, when the permits expired. Exxon Mobil Corp., which retained the licenses 67, 68 and 70 at that time, had those rights withdrawn in March, Lagos, Nigeria- based ThisDay reported May. 16.

The West African country aims to pass a proposed law to regulate the country’s oil and gas industry by the first quarter, she said.

“The hope is that by the end of the first quarter next year the national assembly will have moved that forward,” Alison-Madueke said. Certain areas of the proposed law, such as fiscal regimes, have been amended to be “more equitable” to producers, she said.

Nigeria is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. At least 90 percent of the country’s crude is pumped by Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total SA and Eni SpA in joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

--Editors: Rachel Graham, Rob Verdonck

To contact the reporters on this story: Grant Smith in London at gsmith52@bloomberg.net Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu in Abuja at dmbachu@bloomberg.net.


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