World’s three largest oil traders are competing to buy the African arm of Brazil’s Petrobras

Vitol, Glencore and Shell join three consortiums in contention for the acquisition of Petrobras’ Nigerian assets. The world’s three largest oil traders join others looking to buy the African arm of Brazil’s Petrobras that has stakes in two major Nigerian offshore oil blocks, industry and banking.

In November, Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. — Petrobras, more commonly known as Petrobras, initiated the sale of 100 percent of Petrobras Oil & Gas BV, or Petrobras Africa, as part of its strategy to offload $21 billion in assets through 2018 to save the company that is heavily-indebted and also faces a massive corruption scandal.

According to Reuters, the sale has attracted top trading firms that are always on the hunt for long-term crude supplies. The company had received bids from three consortiums including major trading companies earlier this month, the report added.

Vitol joined the first consortium, which includes the oil upstream subsidiary of U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus called Delonex and Canadian-listed Africa Energy Corp, an oil and gas exploration firm that is part of Sweden’s Lundin Group in bidding for the company.

The second consortium includes Glencore with Nigerian listed firm Seplat and French firm Maurel & Prom, which is majority-owned by the Indonesian government. Indonesia’s state oil firm Pertamina also backs Maurel & Prom and owns a 20 percent stake in Seplat, the unnamed sources noted.

Lastly, the third consortium was privately-held Famfa Oil together with Royal Dutch Shell.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Petrobras is expected to make a decision by the end of May, though this could slide as there was a still a possibility that the bids might be split between the venture’s stakes in two offshore blocks that contain two producing fields: the major Agbami field in OML 127, operated by a local Chevron affiliate and the Akpo field in OML 130 operated by Total SA.

What you should know about Petrobras

Petrobras is a semi-public Brazilian multinational corporation in the petroleum industry headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The company’s name translates to Brazilian Petroleum Corporation — Petrobras. The firm operates in six energy business areas, including refining, transportation and marketing, exploration and production, distribution, gas and power, international and biofuels.

The company holds half its shares while 40 percent are held by a subsidiary of Grupo BTG Pactual SA and 10 percent by Helios Investment Partners. Bankers have previously estimated the value of the Petrobras venture to be about $2 billion.

Petrobras controls significant oil and energy assets in 16 countries in Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

The company also holds stakes in two world-class deepwater blocks in Nigeria. The Akpo and Agbami production fields are in one block and the Egina field, which is in its development phase and where production is scheduled to begin in late 2018, is in the other block. The giant Akpo and Egina fields are operated by Total, while the Agbami field is operated by Chevron.