By Clara Nwachukwu, Vienna, Austria
The Federal Government said it plans to stop refined petroleum products importation within the next two years, after it was done with the turn around maintenance, TAM, of its traditional four refineries, which first phase has commenced with thePort Harcourt refinery.
Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, gave the hint yesterday, while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing 5th OPEC International Seminar inVienna,Austria.
The minister, who was responding against the background of the observations by panellists at the first day of the conference that high oil prices affect the economies of developing nations more than the others, said the move would reduce the impact of oil volatility on the Nigerian economy.
She said: “The reference here was to oil price volatility because for countries that import crude in a very large volume, it obviously does affect their GDP and that was the discourse.
“We, of course, do import crude but not at too high a volume and also produce to a certain extent, but it affects us as well because higher oil prices obviously affect our Gross Domestic Product, GDP, as well interest rates go up as you heard earlier and cause increases in-country.”
She said government was tackling the issue of market volatility from various angles, one of which is to reduce products importation and eventually stopping it completely.
Speculation and volatility
With regard to the impact of the activities of commodity speculators on crude oil prices, which spike high prices, the minister also revealed that Nigeria was in the process of setting up its own trading firms and own its own speculative market.
She said: “In terms of our own assets, we are just actually beginning to look at those markets from an in- country perspective. I know that we are discussing here the global perspective, but we also need to talk about it from the Nigerian perspective.
“We have set up a number of trading houses such as Duke and Parson, and we expect that over the next three years, they will mature to a point that we hope we will be able to create our own trading floor and our own speculative markets, and we will also be able to trade on the international market in oil commodity.”
What are we taking away from the meeting/ we looked in general economic issues and the entire discuss today is on oil prices and oil to the world economy as a whole from various perspectives, including that of global energy security as well, the various ramifications of oil and the global economy amongst other things.