Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said that Nigeria would increase crude oil production to meet local demand and not to essentially sell it in the international market.
Kachikwu explained that the oil output would remain unchanged from the January level of 2.2 million barrels a day, but export would be reduced to focus on local refining and supply of petroleum products to the Nigerian market, which requires at least 500,000 barrels a day.
Nigeria is a net importer of refined petroleum products, in spite of being one of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, on account of low refining capacity and an oil and gas industry riddled with corruption and complex deals.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Kachikwu as head of the NNPC, the state-owned oil monopoly, to reform the industry. Under Kachikwu, the moribund refineries have been resuscitated and petroleum products supplied to the local market.
The minister, during an interview with reporters in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, also announced Nigeria’s support 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.
“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.
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.