By Hector Igbikiowubo with Agency reports
THE Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have released conflicting figures concerning the countryâ€™sÂ crude oil production.
While a the July OPEC production figures put Nigeriaâ€™s output at 1.67 million barrels per day (b/d), the August production volume was put at about 1.6 mb/d. However, speaking at the Utorogu gas plant in Delta state last week, Mr. Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo pegged the countryâ€™s crude oil output at 2.3mb/d.
The NNPC boss made the disclosure while on a plant tour of the Utorogu gas plant which had to be closed as a precautionary measure following sabotage of the Escravos-Lagos-Pipeline by unidentified persons two weeks ago
Barkindo attributed the increase in crude oil production to the federal governmentâ€™s amnesty programme for militants in the Niger Delta.
He said the amnesty programme was one of the best things to happen in the country, adding that gas production at the Utorogu plant was also at its peak.
Barkindo appealed to operators over the Petroleum Industries Bill (PIB), urging them to see reasons with the Nigerian federal government, adding that governmentâ€™s intention was not to punish its partners in the industry but to promote growth by making the industries attractive to everybody including potential investors.
He said it is normal for people to express anxiety over new programmes, adding that the PIB would provide a framework to move the industry forward.
The NNPC chief assured investors in the oil and gas sector of the governmentâ€™s determination to adequately fund the industry to enable gas to be made available to domestic users, particularly the power sector.
It would be recalled that Nigeria has been losing over N20billion [Naira] daily due to the activities of militants.
Serial attacks by MEND and other militant groups on oil facilities had punctured the countryâ€™s oil production capacity and hindered the drive to grow oil reserves to 40 billion by 2010.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in the last three months extended its fight against the federal government to the oil companies.
MEND had recently attacked Afremo B oil platform of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in retaliation for the alleged invasion of an Ijaw community in Warri South_west Local Government Area of Delta State by the military Joint Task Force (JTF).
Mend had six Sundays back attacked Shell pipelines at Adamakiri and Kula, both in Rivers State in the Eastern Niger Delta.
MEND said it had also attacked the Afremo offshore oilfields, which it believed were operated by Shell, and which it said were 14 miles (23 kilometers) from an export terminal through which oil from Shellâ€™s Forcados fields was pumped.
The attacks are the first to strike Rivers State, the Easternmost of the three main states in the Niger Delta, since the militants launched their latest campaign of sabotage following a military offensive in the western delta last month.
Persistent attacks by MEND over the past three years have cut oil output in the OPEC member, the worldâ€™s eighth biggest oil exporter, to less than two thirds of its installed capacity of 3 million barrels per day.
MEND first burst onto the scene in 2006, knocking out more than a quarter of Nigeriaâ€™s oil output _then around 2.4 mb/d _in a matter of weeks.