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Exxon moves to smaller offices as it cuts back Nigerian operations

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By Isaac Anyaogu

LAGOS, May 30 (Reuters) -ExxonMobil XOM.N is not renewing a 33-year-old lease on its expansive offices in Lagos's upscale Lekki district which expires on Friday, three sources inside the company told Reuters, as it looks to scale down operations in Nigeria.

Exxon, Shell SHEL.L, TotalEnergies TTEF.PA and Eni ENI.MI have all sought to leave Nigeria's oil-rich Niger delta in recent years, citing security concerns, but such moves have been stalled by regulatory hurdles.

ExxonMobil's plan to sell its land and shallow-water assets to local oil firm Seplat Energy SEPLAT.LG, agreed in 2022, is nearing close as the local oil sector regulator told Reuters that an agreement signed on Wednesday between Nigerian state oil firm NNPC and Exxon's local unit is a "precursor to regulatory approval".

Yet Exxon's relocation to smaller offices and an absence of any new investments highlight how serious it is about scaling down its Nigerian operations, even as the country's government turns on the charm for multinational oil firms.

Exxon is relocating staff from the 12-floor Mobil House, reportedly leased at the cost of $10 million annually, to a six-floor office building 22 kilometers away in the upscale Ikoyi area, built to accommodate half the personnel working at the former offices.

"The new office leaves no one in doubt about its future plans for Nigeria," a staff member of the company told Reuters.

Exxon did not immediately comment on its relocation plans.

Having agreed on the disposal to Seplat Energy, ExxonMobil has said it will focus on its deepwater assets in Nigeria, through its local units Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria and Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Deepwater).

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who took office last year, has made attracting investment a key priority and has directed that divestment deals be resolved as quickly as possible.

Reporting by Isaac Anyaogu; Editing by David Holmes


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