Royal Dutch Shell PLC's long-running auction of its older Niger Delta oil fields continued Wednesday, with the company announcing it had agreed to sell its share of the OML-34 license block to ND Western Ltd., a local entity, for $400 million.
ND Western is effectively buying a 30% interest in the 15,000 barrels a day of oil produced from the Utorogu, Ughelli and Warri River fields.
The transaction is Shell's latest in a string of planned divestments from the restive Delta region and comes two days after its local joint venture announced a deal to sell the OML 40 block had finally been concluded. In all, Shell has sold seven of its onshore license blocks since 2010.
Shell has in recent years sought to refocus its Niger Delta business, selling off several onshore blocks to local investors. The Anglo-Dutch major's onshore Nigeria operations have long been beset by sabotage and theft, and the company has faced years of criticism from environmental and human-rights groups concerned about the impact its activities have had on the local ecosystem.
Shell has said the vast majority of the pollution in its Nigeria operations in recent years has been caused by oil theft and militant attacks.
France's Total SA and Italy's Eni SpA --Shell company's partners in its local joint venture-- have also ceded their interests in the OML-34 block to ND Western, taking its overall stake to 45%. Financial details of these transactions weren't disclosed.
In July, Shell sold its most prolific oil block to Shoreline Natural Resources Ltd., a local entity backed by U.K. explorer Heritage Oil PLC, for $850 million.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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