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Nigerian Vice President Visits Niger Delta To Restart Peace Talks

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited the Niger Delta on Friday in a move that could bring peace to the oil-producing region after almost a year of militant and separatist conflict, which has seriously stunted national energy output.

The African petrostate depends on oil exports for 70 percent of government revenues, but last year’s attacks by the Niger Delta Avengers and other related groups saw production drops anywhere from one-third to one-half of full capacity, depending on the time of year.

Due to the decreased output, Nigeria received an exemption from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) recent deal to reduce output by 1.5 million barrels per day over the first six months of 2017.

The NDA and related groups argue against Lagos’ diversion of oil profits away from states in the Niger Delta, where funds are needed for further infrastructural and economic development. A previous attempt at peace had led to a short truce late last year, but ultimately failed.

"We seek to first to understand the problems and to offer solutions," Osinbajo said in the oil-producing state of Bayelsa. "Since the destruction began, Nigeria began to lose one million barrels per day and almost 60 percent of revenues have been lost to vandalization. You cannot destroy the sources of revenue and expect rapid development - development comes with revenue."

Related: Nigeria Rescues Oil Tanker From High-Seas Pirates

Nigeria has roughly 500,000 bpd offline because of security issues, Manji Cheto, senior vice president for West Africa at Teneo Intelligence, told Bloomberg. Local energy firms are confident that renewed efforts could make 2017 a comeback year for security in the Nigerian oil industry.

The government is already engaging the Niger delta inhabitants towards creating an enabling environment for us to drive our production back up,” Wale Tinubu, CEO of Oando Plc, a small Nigerian energy company, told Bloomberg. “I know for a fact we’re going to get an improvement.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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