Oscarline Onwuemenyi, with agency reports
22 February 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said the country will keep striving to increase crude oil production to meet local demand and not to essentially sell it in the international market.
Kachikwu who was speaking in an interview in Doha, Qatar with reporters on Sunday stated that Nigeria’s oil production would be 2.2 million barrels a day this month, unchanged from January, he said.
“Nigeria will continue to look at the possibility of increasing production, not to sell it, because we have local consumption that is essential for us. Right now, we are not even exporting the quantity that OPEC has given us,” he said, adding that demand from domestic refineries was at least 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Kachikwu also announced Nigeria’s backing of Saudi Arabia and Russia in freezing oil production, while giving Iran and Iraq a way out to regain some of their lost market shares due to sanctions and war.
According to Kachikwu, “Countries like Iran and Iraq have been out of the market for a while, and if they are to come back, you shouldn’t freeze them out where they are; you should freeze them at a higher level. By June, we will come very close to tightening the market.”
Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar agreed last week to keep production at January levels, as long as others followed suit, in an effort to revive prices from a 12-year low.
Iran’s production has slumped since international sanctions were imposed on its exports, and Iraq is seeking to rebuild following years of war and underinvestment.
Kachikwu noted that there was little chance that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries would hold an emergency meeting before the next regular one scheduled for June.
He said, “Rather than focus on an emergency meeting, we need to talk more. Because if you held a meeting when you haven’t agreed largely on the solution, it wouldn’t be productive and would also affect the price of oil.”