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How Vitol Withdraws From $1.5bn Deal To Buy Nigerian Oil Fields

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Oil trader Vitol said it has quit a consortium that was set to buy a stake in two Nigerian oil fields from Brazil’s Petrobras, its former partner said at the weekend

Africa Oil said it would conclude the $1.5 billion purchase alone after Vitol and Delonex Energy pulled out of the deal to buy half of Petrobras Oil and Gas, known as Petrobras Africa, from the Brazilian company.

“We remain committed to completing this acquisition and look forward to working with Petrobras and all stakeholders to accomplish that goal,” Keith Hill, chief executive of Vancouver-based Africa Oil, said in a statement.

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Africa Oil said the deal will go ahead under the previously agreed terms. It has agreed a $250 million loan facility with BTG Pactual and will fund the rest with available cash.

BTG, Brazil’s largest independent investment bank, owns the other 50% stake in Petrobras Africa, whose core assets are stakes in offshore fields that produce Nigerian oil grades Agbami, Egina and Akpo..

Vitol did not issue a statement on the withdrawal.

Vitol said the deal was taking too long to close, including the wait for necessary clearances from Brazilian and Nigerian officials.

Two sources close to the deal also said Vitol soured on it in part because it would not have got physical oil cargoes from it. “At the end of the day, it was a non-core business for Vitol, so they walked away,” one source said.

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The sale is part of a Petrobras effort to offload $21 billion in assets amid heavy debts and a corruption scandal.

The Petrobras Africa assets include an 8% interest in OML 127, which includes Agbami, and 16% interest in OML 130, which contains Akpo and Egina. A Chevron affiliate operates OML 127, while Total affiliates operate OML 130.

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Akpo produces 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) of condensate, while Egina, which started last year, will produce roughly 200,000 bpd. Agbami, with 240,000 bpd of light, sweet crude, is the most prized part of the asset.

David Round, Exploration and Production analyst with BMO Capital Markets, said despite Vitol’s exit, it remains an attractive deal.

“Africa Oil’s decision to become sole acquirer (and ability to fund) illustrates the impressive level of cash generation from the assets, although we expect the market to remain cautious as completion is still pending after 12 months,” Round said.

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