Nigeria upbeat about oil prospects

Feb. 23, 2012 at 7:50 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- With a draft petroleum law expected by March, a Nigerian official said Abuja expected to invest heavily in the oil sector with its major corporate partners.

More than $100 billion in investments are planned during the next five years for oil and natural gas exploration off the coast of Nigeria through joint ventures with major energy companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell.

"That's our investment profile both in the production sharing contracts and joint ventures from now to 2016 and beyond," Austen Oniwon, group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., told Bloomberg News.

"Joint venture funds will come from both the government and the international oil companies, while the production sharing contracts will be from the contractor."

The country's petroleum minister said a draft petroleum law would be sent to lawmakers within six weeks. Oil exploration has declined in Nigeria because producers are wary of investments without the law, Bloomberg said.

Shell told Bloomberg development of Nigerian deep-water oil fields was well below expectations in part because of the lack of investment.

Nigeria has at least 37 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and is the fifth-largest exporter to U.S. markets.

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