The world’s biggest oil trading firm, Vitol Group, had reached a $530m deal with a Nigerian oil and gas producer, Shoreline Group, to finance an oilfield in exchange for access to some of the oil it produces, the Nigerian firm said on Thursday.
The agreement with Shoreline, finalised on Thursday, will provide the company with cash to refinance existing debt and further develop the Oil Mining Lease 30 in the Niger Delta.
The field currently produces 50,000 barrel per day and has an estimated one billion barrels of oil reserves. Shoreline has a 45 per cent interest in the field.
The European trading house has done other pre-financing deals for preferential access to oil and refined products in Kazakhstan, Iran and elsewhere, according to Reuters.
The Chairman, Shoreline Group, Mr. Kola Karim, was quoted as saying that the “transformational” deal would enable the company to step up gross production to as much as 100,000bpd over the next year.
Shoreline would seek to boost production to between 80,000 and 100,000bpd this year, Karim was quoted by Bloomberg to have said.
“The funds will be used to refinance existing debt and provide us with working capital to expand production. As part of the funding arrangements, Shoreline will work with Vitol to market the crude, and in the development of its export logistics capabilities,” he said.
The financing was arranged with support from Vitol, as well as Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Fidelity Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, FCMB Group Plc and Farallon Capital Management LLC.
Shoreline is one of several Nigerian producers that bought onshore fields in the Niger Delta after international oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell Plc withdrew amid persistent attacks on infrastructure.
The local firms including Shoreline were hit by the militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta in 2016 as they posted steep decline in production for over a year until June last year when the Forcados export terminal came back on stream. The production from Shoreline Natural Resources Limited rose from 115,376 barrels in May to 444,240 barrels in June, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Prior to the shutdown of the Forcados Terminal in February 2016 after the Trans Forcados Pipeline was attacked by militants, the indigenous firms had been hard hit by the persistent low oil prices as their revenues tumbled.
In January 2016 when oil prices were trading below $30 per barrel, Shoreline said it planned to cut 35 per cent of its nearly 2,000 workers to survive the “tough” conditions, Karim was quoted by Bloomberg to have said in an interview. The company also halted plans to issue $500m of Eurobonds.
Meanwhile, unsold barrels of crudes from West Africa could put pressure on the premiums of Malaysian crude cargoes for March loading, traders said, according to Platts.
Weaker demand, particularly from independent refineries in China, for February-loading Angolan and Nigerian grades had resulted in an overhang, traders said.