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Niger Delta: OPEC won’t meddle – El-Badri

By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Dr. Abdalla S. El-Badri, has said that it is not  the place of the organisation  to interfere in local problems of member countries, even when such problems impinge on the achievement of the collective ambition of the group.

El-Badri spoke on Friday in  Abuja at a press briefing organised by the organisation as part of its three-day working visit to the country to discuss recent developments in the global oil market.

According to him, internal problems or policies of member nations remained outside the purview of the mandate of the organisation.
He said, “We can only advise a member country on its crude oil policy when we feel the need to do so, or through our organisational structure, but we are not in the position to comment on or interfere in the internal issues of member countries as that is outside of our mandate.

“We only advise as far as the country’s crude oil policies and how much they produce, but as regards their internal matters, we do not interfere in any way.”

He added, “It is my hope that the problems in the Niger Delta would be over for good, and I’m sure that Nigeria ’s oil output will increase in the coming months in order to meet up with the increasing demands in the international market.”

He explained that OPEC was created to defend the rights of producing countries against the seven sisters (major oil exploration companies of the West), and we have done so creditably. “We have very successfully defended our rights by creating our national oil companies, and now we are almost on an equal footing; we have contract agreements the way we want and we can cooperate as equals unlike in the past,” he added. El-Badri noted that OPEC had enjoyed about 65 oper cent compliance by member countries in recent years, but would want more compliance to production limits by member countries.

On the exploitative activities of International Oil Companies (IOCs) and the controversy over some fiscal provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently in the National Assembly, El-Badri noted that both the nation and the oil companies need each other to succeed.

He said, “No country can do everything by itself; the oil industry is a highly capital intensive one and these IOCs have got the money and the technology that developing countries need to achieve their economic aims.

“Sometimes, you have to rely on the expertise and resources of the companies. What is needed is a balance of interests, and regard for the development needs of the host countries, which should be paramount in every exploitative activity of these oil companies.”

El-Badri debunked claims that the new energy policy pursued by the President Obama administration in the United States of America , would affect global demand for oil, stating that “oil will continue to be the dominant source of energy for the globe in the foreseeable future.”

He also lauded the on-going reforms being promoted by Petroleum Industry Bill, noting that it should be in the overall interest of the nation.

“The reforms are laudable; it is obvious the Nigerian government knows what it is doing with these reforms. The whole idea, to me, is to segregate the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to be a fully commercial entity, which is really important,” he said.

According to him, the move should be commended because “the NNPC cannot be doing business with the IOCs and also be an efficient regulator.”

He noted that as with every reform or change, some people are happy and some are not, adding that the overall objective of Nigeria ’s petroleum industry reforms should be to create a viable and vibrant industry that supports the growth ambitions of the economy.
El-Badri, however, described the deregulation policy of the Federal Government as a welcome development assuring that the Organisation will support the Government for it to succeed.

He noted that the Corporation was going through rapid transformation and sued for commitment and stability for the reformation programme to achieve its aim.

“The reform programme is really good to shake up and wake up people so as to make things work. This will help you to look into your industry to revive what is not working. This is because in the oil sector you have to shoot at the right time,” he said.

El-Badri also expressed the hope that the National Gas plan would work saying that it must be set on motion as the international market would have a space to accommodate the supply from Nigeria .

The OPEC Secretary General lauded the Federal Government for its Amnesty programme and sued for its sustenance for the country to meet its quota.

In his earlier presentation, the head of the NNPC transformation team Dr. Tim Okon stated that the reform of the Corporation was informed by the need to cure some of the deficiencies of the NNPC Act of 1977.

He maintained that the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly if passed would transform the NNPC into a commercial cost saving centre that would be divorced from civil service philosophy and regulations.


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