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CNNMoney: Nigeria Oil Co: Mulls Reserves Booking Impact On JV Changes

March 04, 2008: 03:00 PM EST

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, or NNPC, is discussing the possible impact on reserves booking of a planned joint ventures status change, a spokesman for the company said this week.

The talks highlight the reserves risks the change carries for foreign companies, particularly for Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA), which faced a reserves problem in 2004.

The Nigerian government is considering opening investment in the joint ventures with foreign companies to investors on the stock exchange.

Such a move could dilute the majors’ stake and the amount of oil and gas they can record on their books.

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires, Levi Ajuonuma, group manager for public affairs at state-owned NNPC, said “booking reserves…is on the table” as part of a range of issues related to the change in status.

But he added: “We are looking at a win-win scenario” for both the majors and the Nigerian government, Ajounuma said.

Nigeria has said it will convert its joint oil and gas ventures with foreign energy companies into corporations which could be listed on a stock exchange.

The African country hopes the change in status will help the ventures’ funding crisis, after NNPC defaulted in cash call payments.

Shell, which owns 30% of and operates Shell Petroleum Development Co., is the largest major active in the country. It is also the international oil company for which reserves have been the most critical topic, having gone through five reserves downgrades in 2004 and 2005.

In February, the Anglo-Dutch company also delayed the disclosure of its reserves for 2007 to the end of this month, sparking speculation that its latest numbers would carry negative news. Shell declined to comment for this story.

Total SA (TOT), Chevron Corp. (CVX), ENI SpA’s (E) unit Agip and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) also have stakes in Nigerian joint ventures. These companies wouldn’t comment on possible reserves impact.

-By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9266; [email protected] 

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  03-04-08 1500ET
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