Kachikwu: Nigeria Expects OPEC to Hold Firm on $70 Oil

0

Court strikes out corruption suit against minister

Obinna Chima with agency reports

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies are likely to keep oil-production policy steady when they meet in December as current prices near $70 a barrel suit all members, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, has said.

This is coming as a Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the suit filed against Kachikwu, seeking an order of mandamus to compel anti-corruption agencies in the country to investigate and prosecute him for various alleged infractions in the declaration of his assets.

“I’d be surprised to see anything dramatic” when the coalition gathers, Kachikwu said in an interview in London.

“We are likely to push the can forward” as “$70 is the comfort level, for us and for everybody.”

Mixed signals from the OPEC and its partners have roiled markets over the past week.

While a committee representing the alliance signaled late last week that could restrain output in 2019, and Saudi Arabia warned of a potential renewed surplus, Russia said it could increase production beyond record levels amid risks of a shortage. New supply from around the world, from United States shale oil to projects in Nigeria itself, could swell global output by between 1 million and 2 million barrels a day next year, Kachikwu said. That could force the OPEC and its allies to consider restraining supplies again, he said.

OPEC will meet on December 6 in Vienna and hold a follow-up meeting with its partners outside the organisation the next day.

Nigeria aims to add about 200,000 barrels a day at the Egina oil field in the first quarter of next year, bringing total output of crude oil and condensates to the country’s target of 2.2 million a day, according to Kachikwu.

Other projects, such as Bonga and Zabazaba, are still awaiting a final investment decision and would not likely produce before the end of the decade.

Kachikwu was returning via London from the US, where he held a “very positive” meeting with current and potential investors.

He also received an honorary citizenship from the states of Georgia and South Carolina.

Nigeria is still struggling with its refining system, which operates well below capacity. Repairs will start early next year, Kachikwu said, adding that Nigeria will announce the financiers for that work later in 2018.

Meanwhile a Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the suit filed against Kachikwu, seeking an order of mandamus to compel anti-corruption agencies in the country to investigate and prosecute him for various alleged infractions in the declaration of his assets.

Earlier in the proceedings, counsel to Kachikwu, Dr. Muiz Banire and Paul Erokoro, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), had sought the dismissal of the suit but the judge, Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo, in declining to make the order, premised same on the absence of the motion seeking dismissal in the court file.

The Federal High Court recently granted leave, permitting a civil society group, Kingdom Rights Foundation International (KHRFI), to commence a suit which centres on allegations of money laundering, operation of a foreign bank account, corruption and assets declaration irregularities against Kachikwu

An enrolled order of the court bearing the stamp of the Federal High Court and the signature of the registrar with October 15, 2018 date, showed that Justice Ogunbanjo had made the order on October 10.

The plaintiff, KHRFI, through its ex parte application filed on August 23, 2018, had sought the court’s leave to commence a suit seeking Kachikwu’s probe for the various allegations.

Kachikwu was sued alongside the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Okere Nnamdi, asked the court, in the substantive suit, to conduct a judicial review of the administrative action/inaction of the defendants to perform their constitutional and statutory mandates and obligations in connection with the investigation and prosecution of Kachikwu and also sought leave to commence the suit on October 10.

But the suit was yesterday thrown out by the same court, thus vindicating Kachikwu, who had at various times insisted on compliance with the relevant law and rules in the declaration of his assets as against speculations flying around that his declaration was fraudulent. When contacted, the minister’s media office, reassured all well-wishers of their principal’s disposition to upholding the law, adding also that he would never be distracted by such orchestrated distractions.