Nigeria government peace initiatives in the Niger Delta increases oil production to two million barrels per day
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb 27, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE federal government’s renewed effort to amicably settle issues that have caused violent agitation and vandalisation of oil infrastructures in the Niger Delta region is yielding results. Consequently, crude oil production in the country has risen to two million barrel per day.
Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, who stated this on Wednesday, February 15, said the country now produces additional 200,000 bpd of crude oil, up from the 1.8 million bpd recorded in recent times. He made the disclosure when he met with the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to defend the 2017 budget estimates of the ministry of petroleum resources.
According to him, the ongoing repairs on oil facilities and negotiations between the federal government and militant groups in the Niger Delta region were yielding results. The minister, who also spoke on the Forcados oil terminal, informed the lawmakers that repair works on the facility were nearing completion.
Kachikwu explained that in a matter of weeks, the facility could be reopened; a development that would further shoot up oil production to 2.2 million bpd. “In some weeks, we will be able to progress to 2.2 million bpd, which is the target of the (2017) budget.”
Forcados, one of Nigeria’s major shipment terminals, was shut down around March 2016 after militants blew up a sub-sea crude pipeline that supplied the facility. The incident led to the shut-in of about 250,000 barrels of crude and the attendant dip in oil revenue to the government.
The minister also spoke on other plans of the government to repair or replace ageing distribution lines and platforms to improve delivery of products. However, he alluded to poor release of budgeted funds as a challenge slowing down some projects of the ministry. According to Kachikwu, releases averaged 50 percent in 2016.
But, in spite of the poor releases, the ministry raised its 2017 budget to N69 billion, up from the N61.8 billion budgeted in 2016. Salaries of ministry workers will consume N61 billion out of the money, while capital projects will cost N7 billion.
When members asked Kachikwu for updates on the government’s proposal to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta, he said the idea was to address the problem of illegal refineries. “We are looking at 2,000 to 5,000 barrels per day to suck in individuals who engage in illegal refining of products,” he said.
Kachikwu, however, clarified that the modular refineries would refine mainly kerosene and diesel. When some northern lawmakers sought to know whether other parts of the country would have such refineries sited in their areas, the minister replied, “We will extend them to other parts of the country.”
It could be recalled that since January this year acting president Yemi Osinbajo has been touring the oil producing states. So far, he has visited Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Imo States to emphasise to the people that the federal government acknowledged the paltry developmental benefits that had accrued to the region from its oil resources.
Osinbajo said in his recent visit that the government was out to redress the situation, but it needed a stable environment to work. “No Nigerian can be proud, with the state of development in the Niger Delta; we are all beneficiaries of resources from the region. However, we cannot have instability and be able to carry out speedy development of the region,” he said.
If the federal government wants to sustain this improvement in the Niger Delta region, it should learn to adopt an all-inclusive peace strategy that caters to all interests like armed agitators, peaceful agitators, and even the laidback. This should be the focus of the renewed effort to address the grievances in the oil-rich region.