Nigeria is producing around 1.8 million barrels of oil daily, up from an average 1.63 million bpd in the third quarter of the year. The current rate of production is still 400,000 bpd below the peak of 2.2 million bpd before the militant attacks on oil infrastructure started in the Niger Delta.
Oil Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu, who presented the figures, said the top priorities of the government for 2017 were to achieve “lasting peace” in the oil-rich region and improve Nigeria’s oil refining infrastructure.
Kachikwu was speaking at a forum in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, where later in the day he is expected to sign a deal with several Western oil companies that will settle unpaid debts from joint ventures totaling US$5.1 billion. The companies involved in the deal include Italy’s Eni, Shell, Exxon, and Chevron.
Interestingly enough, in September, the government in Abuja said it was launching a lawsuit against five companies, among them Eni, Shell, and Chevron, along with Petrobras and Total, for illegal exports of crude worth US$12.7 billion between 2011 and 2014.
Yesterday, at the presentation of Nigeria’s 2017 budget in parliament, President Muhammadu Buhari said plans were to boost production to 2.2 million bpd—the level Nigeria was producing in 2015 before the attacks on pipelines began.
Buhari’s statement must be cringeworthy for OPEC, who is hard-selling the cuts to the volatile markets, and who had exempted Nigeria from the collective cuts deal to curb its output to 32.5 million bpd, effective in January.
Decreased oil revenues from lower exports, coupled with the persistently low crude oil prices, have battered Nigeria’s economy, which slipped into recession in the second quarter this year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Nigerian economy to contract by 1.7 percent this year and to slightly grow, by 0.6 percent, next year.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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