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Rising Oil Prices Will Create Problems for Nigeria - Kyari

Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, has warned that rather than being a positive development, the rising prices of crude oil in the international market could cause major challenges for resource-dependent nations like Nigeria.

He spoke just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern over the re-emergence of fuel subsidy in Nigeria in the face of the country's low revenue mobilisation.

The Washington-based institution, however, welcomed recent moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify exchange rates, certifying Nigerian banks as being liquid and well-capitalised.

Kyari, at the virtual Citizens Energy Congress, tagged: "Securing a Sustainable Future Energy System through Strategy, Collaboration and Innovation," yesterday described the rising price of crude oil as a "chicken and egg" situation.

He added that oil prices had started exiting the comfort zone set by the NNPC, and becoming a burden.

The forum was organised by DMG Events, a London-based Public Relations company, which said the occasion was to provide an opportunity for players to reset the energy agenda post- COVID-19 and connect the divergent and polarising perspectives.

Kyari put the comfort zone globally at $58-$60, saying that for the NNPC, anything above $70-$80 will create major distortions in the projections of the corporation and add more problems to the company.

Brent crude, Nigeria's oil benchmark, is currently selling for over $74 and is likely to increase further in the coming days as the NNPC continues to battle the dilemma of shouldering the payment of petrol subsidy, which has made it unable to contribute to the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) on two occasions.

Kyari expressed the concern that as the commodity prices rise, buyers of Nigeria's crude may be compelled to accelerate their investment in renewable sources of energy, thereby leaving the industry in a quagmire.

He said: "In a resource-dependent nation like Nigeria when it gets too high, it creates a big problem because your consumers shut down their demand. Demand will go down and obviously even as the prices go up, you will have less volume to sell.

"So, it's a chicken and egg story and that's why in the industry when people make estimates for the future, they always make it about $50 to $60. Nobody puts it beyond $60.

"But for us as a country, as prices go up, the burden of providing cheap fuel also increases and that's a challenge for us but on a net basis, you know, the high prices, as long as it doesn't exceed $70 to $80, it's okay for us."

According to him, Nigeria will have no problems supporting the restoration of about 5.8 million barrels a day that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) still has offline since the pandemic, due to the curbs in production quota imposed by the oil cartel.




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