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Exempt Nigeria from oil freeze, Kachikwu begs OPEC

By Ediri Ejoh with Agency report

Amid expectations from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, ordering members to freeze oil production, at its meeting yesterday, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has pleaded for an exemption for Nigeria.

He explained that Nigeria was still struggling to get back on its production strength of 1.7 million barrels per day and facilities repairs.

Speaking at an interview with Bloomberg, Kachikwu, stated that given the current challenges bedevilling the sector such plans would be unfair for the country’s productivity.

He said: “Frankly, given what we are faced with in Nigeria in the last 11 to 12 months, we have lost literally between 500,000 and 700, 000 barrels per day on an average. It is very unrealistic to expect Nigeria to make more sacrifices. We will expect to be one of those people to be granted an exemption.”

The minister maintained that possible discourse would be geared towards production cut rather than a freeze, saying, “this is because freezing at current levels is still fairly high and would not make serious impact in terms of the market.

“There  have been some arguments that when you have an unwillingly partnership as it is right now, you first do what is possible which is creating a freeze which is a softer module and then you progress to cuts.

“But the realistic situation is that unless you have a realistic cut, you are not going to have much of an impact in terms of pricing.”

However, we hope to have a good and very honest dialogue; to a willingness to have at a minimum a freeze; and at the maximum a cut. At least, if we don’t achieve that now, having an undertaken that it must be done  between now and when the next meeting commenced in November.”

Commenting on crisis in the Niger-Delta region and current strategies to stem the tide, Kachikwu called for a more effective and realistic dialogue.

“We are doing all we can but the truth is that we should effect a dialogue which is engaging as much as we can. I think we should be realistic about a robust and aggressive dialogue and be able to find a solution to this crisis.

“Secondly, at the end of the day, we should have a very robust military response not in terms of real strike or attacks, but in terms of being able to respond to surprises.

A twin set of solution both military and dialogue positions where to propose,” he said.

According to him, the country’s current production stands at 1.7 million barrels, up from the very low 1.2 million from about two to three months ago, adding that, “if we can finalize the dialogue in the month of October, we will be able to get the country to about two million barrel by the end of the year.

Kachikwu noted that when the pipelines are been destroyed it will take time to get them repaired and get back to production, stressing that it was really the main constraints rather than the attacks.

“The Quo-Ibeo and the Shell Bonny will require an average of two to three months to finalize the terms of repair. I am hoping that by the end of the year, we will have about two million barrels,” the minister said.

However, he asserted that there was need for the country to build reserves.

“But we are launching a petroleum road map that would cover everything from Niger -delta solution to the security in the area; financing the industry; stopping government from cash calls; looking at assets and seeing how we can deploy vast sum of money in the hands of government,” Kachikwu opined.

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