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Shell Said to Get Bids From Essar, Afren for Nigerian Fields

By Brett Foley – Feb 21, 2011 5:03 PM GMT+0000

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, received interest from companies including Essar Group, Afren Plc and Perenco SA for stakes in four Nigerian oil fields, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

India’s Essar is bidding with Energy Equity Resources Ltd. of Nigeria while closely held Perenco of France is working with Swiss trading firm Addax & Oryx Group Ltd. and Oando Plc, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter is private. Another bidding group includes Heritage Oil Plc of the U.K. and Nigerian contractor Shoreline Energy International, one of the people said.

The four fields may be sold individually and Shell may inform companies selected to purchase the blocks as early as this week, one of the people said. Private-equity firms including Riverstone Holdings LLC and Blackstone Group LP have also expressed interest in the assets, one of the people said.

Shell is selling its stakes in four onshore fields as part of Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser’s plan to sell $5 billion of assets this year. The company, based in The Hague, Netherlands, has sold about $30 billion of assets over the last five years and on Feb. 19 said it would to sell its retail fuels business in 14 African countries for $1 billion to oil trader Vitol Group and a private-equity firm.

Kirsten Smart, a spokeswoman for Shell in London declined to comment when contact by Bloomberg News today.

30 Blocks

Helen Winning, a spokeswoman for Blackstone in London, and an unidentified official at Riverstone’s office in London couldn’t immediately comment. Odion Aleobua, a spokesman for Oando in Lagos, Nick Lambert, an external spokesman for Heritage in London, and Andrew Turpin, a spokesman for Essar in London, declined to comment. Jenny Renton, an external spokeswoman for both Perenco and Afren in London, declined to comment.

The stakes being sold are in addition to four other blocks Shell sold last year, Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said Feb. 3. The company will retain a further 30 blocks in the African country which stretch over an area bigger than Belgium and with a population of 35 million people, Henry said.

The blocks sold and for sale represent less than 10 percent of Shell’s production in Nigeria, Henry said at the time.

Names of the strategic bidders were reported Feb. 18 by Norwegian trade publication Upstream.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Foley in London at [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeff St.Onge at [email protected];

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