17 June 2015, Lagos – Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, has sold the multibillion naira Warri airport to an indigenous energy and infrastructure company, Shoreline Energy International Limited, it has been learnt.
Shoreline Energy International took full possession of the facility in April, sources at the Warri airport confirmed.
The sale of the airport was said to be part of the strategic review of Shell’s operations in the eastern Niger Delta. The oil major had sold some of its oil blocks and interests in the area as part of the general divestment plan.
Our correspondent gathered that the completion agreement for the deal was signed at Shell’s office in Marina, Lagos on March 4 and was witnessed by the Managing Director of Shell, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, and the Group Managing Director, Shoreline, Mr. Kola Karim.
A spokesperson for Shell, Mr. Bamidele Odugbesan, confirmed the development to our correspondent on Tuesday.
He said the development was part of the strategic review of Shell’s business portfolio in certain areas of the Niger Delta.
“This does not mean we are reducing our investments in Nigeria. What we have invested in Nigeria in recent years has exceeded the divestment of our interests in the eastern Niger Delta. It is just part of the review of our business portfolio,” Odugbesan explained.
On the amount the airport was sold for, he said Shell would not be able to disclose some confidential financial details of the transaction.
The development means that commercial airlines, both scheduled and non-scheduled carriers, operating into and out of the airport, will now start paying fees to the new owner.
Some airline operators told our correspondent on Tuesday that they were already aware of the development.
Shoreline could not be reached for comments as of press time.
Shell had in June 2013 announced a strategic review of its operations in the eastern Niger Delta, which it said could result in the divestment of some of its interests there.
Prior to construction of the airport, a small airstrip at Osubi had been created next to a congested part of the city of Warri in the 1960s.
The runway of the airstrip was approximately 0.7 kilometres in length. There was a small terminal building and an aircraft hangar. Small charter aircraft of Aero Contractors and other firms provided services to the airstrip from Lagos
The Federal Government had drawn plan to build an airport there in the late 1970s to allow easy movement into Warri by air because of its status as an oil city, but the plan could not be realised for over two decades. Meanwhile, people coming in and out of Warri continued to use the old airstrip, in a congested part of the city.
Finding it harder to conduct business using the old airstrip, Shell decided to build one on its own. The airport was inaugurated and opened for commercial use on April 1, 1999.