Nigerian oil minister sees need for conversations with non-OPEC producers
By Ulf Laessing
LAGOS, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Nigerian oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said on Thursday that while a cut in OPEC production is unlikely, there is hope a meeting of producers in Algeria next month could help shore up crude prices.
Kachikwu also said in a speech in Lagos that his country’s oil output had fallen to 1.56 million barrels per day (b/d) as persistent militant attacks took out some 700,000 b/d.
But he cast doubt on any plans by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to voluntarily reduce their output at the meeting in Algeria.
“Are we cutting volumes? I don’t see that happening,” Kachikwu told reporters, but added that all options are on the table and other action could have an impact.
“Will that meeting help lift the price? Well yes if we succeed in having conversations with Russia, the USA and Mexico.”
“If there is a handshake with individuals across the aisle that would be the beginning,” he said when asked whether OPEC members could make a new attempt to agree on a freeze.
Russian output currently hovers near an all-time high of 10.85 million b/d. It has signalled it is no longer keen on a dialogue to freeze output and would continue boosting production. North American producers are also expected to add more barrels.
Four streams of Nigeria’s oil, including the country’s largest, Qua Iboe, along with Bonny Light, Brass River and Forcados are currently under force majeure.
Kachikwu said it was too early to say when Nigeria could increase output as security in its oil hub, the Niger Delta, needed to improve first.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari was continuing talks with militants, he said. “We are talking but is not an easy thing.”
The Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed a wave of attacks, said it would declare the region’s independence on Oct. 1 unless the government restructured the country. The group, which apparently split in recent weeks, did not elaborate.
“The Buhari-led government has fail(ed) Nigerians with their misdirected policies that has divide(d) the country, as such nobody wants to be part of that failed state not even the Niger Delta,” the group said on its website.
“The October 1st declaration of independence is still sacrosanct,” it said.
The militants say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth, which accounts for around 70 percent of national income, to be passed on to communities in the impoverished region and for areas blighted by oil spills to be cleaned up.
Kachikwu said the violence had also slashed domestic gas supply this year from 1,400 million standard cubic feet (mmscf) to 550 mmscf.
He said a much-delayed petroleum industry bill (PIB) to overhaul the industry would be split in three parts but discussions with parliament were ongoing.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Writing by Libby George; editing by Susan Thomas and Adrian Croft)