London (Reuters) – Commodities trader Vitol Group and Harvest Natural Resources have ended talks over the sale of Harvest’s $137 million stake in a Gabon oil licence, the U.S. oil company said this week without giving a reason.
Like rival trader Glencore Xstrata, Vitol has been seeking to expand its holdings in oil production and exploration as part of a quest for physical assets.
Africa, and especially the Gulf of Guinea, has so far been one of the main areas of expansion for traders. Vitol already has assets in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
“In spite of our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement on the terms of a transaction with Vitol that would meet Harvest’s requirements on timing and certainty,” Harvest Chief Executive James Edmiston said in a statement.
The two parties were in exclusive talks on the sale of a 67 percent stake in the Dussafu Marine Permit PSC as the Texas-based oil company sought to boost liquidity.
Edmiston said he expected to find other investors and cited high levels of interest in Gabon’s recent licensing round, in which 11 companies were awarded blocks.
A Vitol spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal.
Former OPEC member Gabon produces around 240,000 barrels per day, which account for about 80 percent of its export earnings.