a report last week that Sinopec,  Asia’s largest oil refiner,  is close to acquiring stakes in Nigerian onshore oil blocks from Total,  Total’s Chief Executive, Christophe de Margerie,  has confirmed that the firm is in talks to sell its assets in Nigeria worth about $2.4 billion to  the Asian oil giant.

Although de Margerie refused to name the potential buyer or value of the deal, he however did not deny that his company is planning to sell some of its assets.

“Yes we are discussing with certain buyers about selling certain assets in Nigeria,” he said.

“But it doesn’t mean we are scared and intend to start some kind of walk out of Nigeria…Total is happy to develop its projects in Nigeria,” he told reporters at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi.

Total said in September that it is planning to sell some of its assets worth  between $15 billion to $20 billion from 2012 to 2014 as part of a bolder approach to managing its business, which has seen it buy and sell assets more frequently.

According to Reuters,  oil companies operating in Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude oil exporter, have for a long time had to deal with attacks on their pipelines and staff; with the country’s worst floods in 50 years seriously affecting output in recent weeks.

Total declared force majeure in October on gas supplies to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas’ (NLNG) liquefaction plant, saying it had stopped oil and gas production from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 58, which was losing 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil equivalent, in which it has a 40-per-cent stake.

Total’s head of upstream, Yves-Loius Darricare, said it is too early to say when production might restart, with flooding still posing problems.

“The water is decreasing, but we still have some problems with the floods,” Yves-Loius Darricare, said. “I hope we will be able to restart production as soon as we can.”

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported that at least 363 people have been killed due to the floods since the start of July while 2.1 million people have been displaced. The agency confirmed last week that the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s oil-producing region, was still flooded but water levels were falling and the heaviest rains had passed, as the country enters a six-month long dry season.


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