September 30, 2019 / 12:49 PM / 16 days ago

Nigeria's Rivers state says it bought Shell stake in Ogoniland oilfield

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Royal Dutch Shell is seen at a petrol station in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - The governor of Nigeria’s Rivers state said on Monday it had purchased Royal Dutch Shell’s (RDSa.L) stake in a contested oil mining licence in the Ogoniland region, the centre of protests in the 1990s over the distribution of oil wealth.

Governor Nyesom Wike told a news conference that Rivers had “fully acquired” the stake in OML 11 from Shell. He said the block had been undeveloped for nearly 25 years since the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a prominent writer who was among nine protest leaders executed in 1995 by the then military government of Sani Abacha.

Shell, whose Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) jointly owns the licence with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, declined to confirm or deny the sale.

“The announcement by the Rivers state government is in respect of the assets of SPDC which form part of a matter that is pending in court, for which reason we are unable to make further comment,” it said in a statement.

The Department of Petroleum Resources, the government department that would approve any transfer of an oil licence, said it was not aware of any sale of OML 11.

There are various legal cases involving SPDC and community representatives in Ogoniland, including efforts by some to seize SPDC assets to cover debts related to oil spills.

Industry sources have said the field is among several onshore assets that Shell has been trying to sell in Nigeria.

Wike said Rivers state had bid $150 million (122.2 million pounds) for the 45% stake in the asset.

The governor’s statement said OML 11 had the potential to produce 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil. Nigeria currently produces roughly 2 million bpd of crude oil and condensates.

Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Libby George; Writing by Libby George; Editing by Jan Harvey and Nick Tattersall

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