Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, Nigeria’s minister of petroleum resources and former OPEC president and secretary general needs little introduction, especially since he is a household name in global oil and gas operations.
At the 154th OPEC ordinary conference which took place in Vienna, Austria, he spoke with Hector Igbikiowubo, Editor of Sweet Crude on a wide range of issues including but not restricted to the petroleum industry bill before the national assembly and government’s preparedness to accommodate the concerns of existing and prospective foreign investors, Nigeria’s production aspirations and oil market outlook.
We are hoping that the new law that is coming will enhance the confidence of our potential investors, both those who are with us and the new ones we are hoping will come into Nigeria.
In view of the concerns the PIB has generated from investors, have you had cause to revisit and inject changes to the bill?
There may be some modifications here and there to take into account what we have heard at the public hearing especially, but the fundamental objectives of the bill remains the same.
Can you speak to concerns about possible increase in taxes, because that was one of the major concerns raised by the multinationals?
The fiscal regime that we have designed is intended to correct the aberrations that were contained in the previous fiscal regime and to put in place a fiscal regime that will be sustainable over a period of time because what we’ve had has outlived its usefulness.
What about Nigeria’s aspirations of growing production to 4.0 million barrels per day by next year?
It is still there in the long run. We are almost there. We have achieved 3.7 million barrels per day at the moment, leaving only 300,000 barrels per day to beef it up to 4.0 million barrels per day and we have still got another year in which to do this so we are hopeful.
Are you happy with the outcome of the 154th OPEC meeting as far as Nigeria is concerned?
W are happy because the prices are stable and the compliance is not 100 per cent but it is in tandem with the reality of the market. Price remains between $60 and N70 per barrel. This means we are doing something right.
Would 75 per cent compliance be enough?
We would be contented with 100 per cent compliance.
What about the outlook for demand?
Given what happened last year and this year, the outlook is not bad, the demand is going to rise slightly, it is not going down like in previous years.
Are you happy with the price at the moment?
It is okay.
What is Nigeria’s current output level?
It is around 1.5-1.6 million barrels per day of crude oil.
But the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation was quoted as saying crude oil output has increased to 2.3 million barrels per day output?
That is including condensates.
Are we to expect any increase in Nigeria’s quota?
We already have a quota and we are satisfied for now.
Are we to expect any changes in OPEC output or would production levels be left unchanged?
We will soon find out. The market is doing reasonably well and you don’t start tampering with the market when things are that way.