By Chineme Okafor
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Thursday disclosed that the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will on December 15, hold further discussions with investors to decide whether to continue with the planned upgrade of the country’s refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna, or not.
Speaking yesterday on the sidelines of the ongoing 175th meeting of the OPEC in Vienna, Austria, Kachikwu also said it would be difficult for Nigeria to participate in the expected oil production cut, which member countries of OPEC are likely to undertake.
He, however, noted that member countries expected every member to participate, adding that Nigeria would be comfortable if the volumes demanded of it would be minimal.
The minister who spoke with Bloomberg, added that Nigeria would try to contribute to whatever the group agreed on.
Kachikwu said negotiations with investors for the refineries’ upgrade has been slow, stressing that “the board of the NNPC has decided that by December 15, we should draw a ceiling whether we should be going forward or not with investors.”
“We think that we will be able to go forward with minor adjustments in terms of the terms and by first quarter of next year we begin to see some works begin at least with the initial ORBs,” he added.
On oil production cuts and Nigeria’s position, he said: “Very difficult to do that; where we are now is that everybody must be seen to contribute. The smaller it is the more amenable we are to participate, the larger it is the more difficult it will be to participate.”
“I am keeping all fingers crossed; we have gotten exemptions three times understandably; this time around, I think there is a decision that everybody must be seen to chip in. We don’t know the numbers yet but let’s get in there first; I know it is going to be very little.”
Shortly after the meetings where no decision had been announced yet, Kachikwu said he was confident a deal would be reached but added that the position of non-OPEC countries led by the Russian Federation was relevant to whatever would be achieved after all.
His position however was different from that of the Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia, Khalid al-Falih, who told journalists he was not confident a deal has been reached yet on the production cut.
Kachikwu, however, told THISDAY that “given what has happened today, I think we are fairly close to getting a deal within OPEC.However, we will still leave it up to non-OPEC. It depends on what happens in non-OPEC”.
“Still preliminary, we will like to see how it moves. What we have is some level of proposals on the table right now. “Tomorrow, we have a meeting with non-OPEC, some level of meeting with OPEC members and by then we will know for certain where we stand on this issue.”
He refused to disclose what number Nigeria has agreed to cut its oil production to accommodate the demands by OPEC and non-OPEC.