Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Kachikwu Ibe has disclosed how he tactically manoeuvred potential threats to Nigeria’s exemption from the recent crude oil production cap by member countries of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC.
Within the production cap. which is expected to kick off in January 2017, Nigeria and Libya were exempted from taking part on the back of their peculiar challenges with oil production which has seen their volumes drop.
Kachikwu however stated recently in Abuja that during the last meeting with non-OPEC members, Nigeria’s exemption from the cap was questioned by Russia who he said wanted to know what production levels would be when Nigeria fully resumes its oil production.
He said through a very clever means, he had to weather Russia’s concerns, which he noted could have derailed the final agreement of both parties.
“Until the last minute of the signing, we were not sure of what was going to happen because the Russians were asking questions about Nigeria’s exemption, that if Nigeria was being exempted, will the volume still be 32.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) or not when we come back,” he said.
“And I eventually had to come in to say that 32.5mbpd did not include Nigeria’s volume for the simple reason that there is going to be natural calamities in certain countries and there is going to be countries that will step down production for maintenance and others. So, when you consider that, there is a 2mbpd factor that if you throw in, Nigeria will be adequately covered and that took care of it,” Kachikwu added.
He also spoke about his experience so far in representing Nigeria’s interest in OPEC, adding that over the period, he had come to be seen as a bridge-builder in the cartel.
“I became a minister and in the very first month I was thrust into the leadership of OPEC and others. And I needed to build personal relationships first to the point where I needed to convince the four countries that we must serve as engines rooms of finding solutions to their national problems and not bringing their national problems to the theatre of negotiations of OPEC and by the time I handed over to the minister of energy of Qatar, it had gotten to the point where I was seen as the bridge to relationship building and so the reason why we succeeded so much in trying to find communality.
“We have also been able to have a Secretary General that is doing very well and coming from where we were before this government took over. At the last meeting with non-OPEC members, Russia particularly requested for Nigeria’s presence and knowing fully well what we had done with Iran and the Saudis and that again helped us to forge out what we had.”