The world’s three largest oil traders are competing to buy the African arm of Brazil’s Petrobras, which owns stakes in two major Nigerian offshore oil blocks, according to industry and banking sources with knowledge of the matter.
In November 2017, state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro, known as Petrobras, launched the sale of 100% of Petrobras Oil & Gas, or Petrobras Africa, as part of the heavily indebted company’s plan to offload $21bn in assets throughout 2018 as it also faces a massive corruption scandal.
Petrobras holds half the shares in the company, while 40% are held by a subsidiary of Grupo BTG Pactual and 10% by Helios Investment Partners.
Bankers have previously estimated the value of the Petrobras venture to be $2bn.
The venture has stakes in two offshore blocks that contain two producing fields: the major Agbami field in OML 127, operated by a local Chevron affiliate, and the Akpo field in OML 130 operated by Total.
The sale has attracted the top trading firms, which are always on the hunt for long-term crude supplies. In early May, three consortiums including the major trading companies submitted bids to buy Petrobras Africa.
Vitol bid together with the oil upstream subsidiary of US private equity firm Warburg Pincus called Delonex and Canadian-listed Africa Energy, an oil and gas exploration firm that is part of Sweden’s Lundin Group.
Glencore joined up with Nigerian-listed firm Seplat and French firm Maurel & Prom, which is majority owned by the government of Indonesia. Indonesia’s state oil firm, Pertamina, also backs Maurel & Prom and owns a 20% stake in Seplat.
The third bidder was privately held Famfa Oil together with Royal Dutch Shell. Famfa Oil is one of the concessionaires in the operator of the Agbami oil field along with Chevron, Statoil and Petrobras. Chevron holds the majority stake.
Vitol, Glencore, Shell and Africa Energy declined to comment. Maurel, Famfa and Seplat did not respond to requests for comment.
Petrobras is expected to make a decision by month-end.
However, the sources said that this could slide as there was a still a possibility that the bids might be split between the two oil block stakes.
Agbami produces about 240,000 barrels per day (bpd), while the Akpo field in OML 130 produces nearly 130,000 bpd with a second field Egina due to come onstream in the same block later this year.