The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, has declared that the removal of petroleum subsidy remains the best option for the country for now.
Fielding questions from newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, the minister argued that subsidy removal would free up funds to finance developmental projects.
According to him, the government was still in discussing with labour unions and other stakeholders to arrive at an agreeable stance, pointing out however that the scheme would end the day President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“Subsidy removal when the President assents to the PIB will become a matter of law because it is already in the PIB that petroleum products will be sold at market determined prices”
On the 50 years of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, (OPEC), the minister disclosed that Nigeria’s oil production quota is now 1.554 million barrels per day.
This, he added, excludes condensate oil, the federal government of Nigeria has disclosed on
“The country’s membership of the Oganisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, (OPEC) has been a win-win for both parties in the last 50 years”, the minister gleefully said, explaining that without the group international oil market would have been in chaos.
“The decision by Nigeria to become a member of OPEC has enhanced the development of the oil industry in the country, enabled the country to influence the growth and contribute to the survival of the industry globally, as well as placed the country among the comity of nations engaged in the noble duty of stabilizing the oil market for the benefit of all – producers, consumers and investors alike.
“The relationship between Nigeria and OPEC, without doubt, has been of mutual benefits to both parties.
“On the one hand, it has supported the growth of the oil industry in Nigeria through the harmonization and adoption of relevant policies among OPEC Member Countries, as well as through the sharing of knowledge and technical expertise. Nigeria has also benefited greatly from the efforts of OPEC to stabilize the oil market taking into consideration that the economy of the country is highly dependent on revenue from oil.
“On the other hand, Nigeria has also contributed enormously to the survival of the OPEC through turbulent times, by lending full support to the efforts of the Organization to balance and stabilize the oil market”, he said.
The minister maintained that the nation in the past 50 years has produced six Presidents of OPEC conference and four OPEC Secretary Generals including the incumbent, Muhammad Barkindo.
According to him, last week’s failure by OPEC and its allies including Russia known as OPEC plus, to agree on future oil production level, was not an indication of cracks emerging in the alliance, said very soon a solution would be found.
His word, “The last meeting was deadlocked in a way but that really doesn’t indicate that there is a crack in the OPEC family. In a family it is not the majority that wins. OPEC is a consensus organization. So everybody in the family must agree before we can move forward.
“So if 99 percent of the people are on one side and one percent is on one side OPEC will not still agree and that is really what happened to us in the last meeting. Everybody else has agreed but one country disagreed. They have reasons why they disagreed and we are trying to resolve the issue with them”.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.