Peace talks between community leaders in the Niger Delta and Abuja are now in jeopardy, according to a new report by Reuters.
Local officials told a press conference in the Nigerian capital that the government had until November 1st to meet development demands, otherwise militant attacks on federal and foreign oil assets could resume.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and similar groups have instituted a ceasefire to allow peace talks between community leaders and senior federal officials to proceed. Over the course of 2016, the attacks had caused between one-third and one-half of national production to go offline.
The reduced output led the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to exempt Nigeria from its historic agreement to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day last November. Since the new year, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has led an organized effort to negotiate an agreement with local leaders that will ensure the equitable distribution of oil wealth across the country.
OPEC announced last week that Nigerian output would be capped at 1.8 million barrels per day once it reaches that level later this year.
A new policy document approved by the Nigerian federal executive council paves the way for the country to end its oil dependence, while lowering extraction costs in the short to medium terms.
“The most realistic line of action for any nation with oil as the backbone of its economy is to diversify, because indices strongly point to the possibility that the era of oil booms may be over for good”, the policy reads.
The petroleum policy also calls for an oil industry regulator and revival of Nigeria’s refineries, which have been unable to operate for a sustained period at a capacity above 50 percent.
“Oil demand growth will markedly soften, except for the petrochemicals sector which is likely to be the main market for oil. Nigeria has to move downstream into the value-added sectors of refining and petrochemicals,” the policy states.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…