Alarmed by the fall in global oil prices, Petroleum Minister and President, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has said that Nigeria needs to adopt a more strategic approach to sustaining the oil industry.
The oil minister, who addressed State House correspondents for the first time since her election as OPEC President last week, said the change of direction was necessary to enable Nigeria stay competitive in the dwindling international crude oil market.
Allison-Madueke warned that in order to stay afloat, Nigeria could no longer afford to do business as usual considering the prevailing decline in global demand for the product.
She said: “Nigeria has to become much more competitive at this time and going into the future. We cannot continue to do business as usual.
“We must ensure that we have the right enabling parameters and indices in this country to attract the right end-user markets and end-user demands for our products.
“This is because there are so many other countries that would be competing for those end user markets and to get that end user demand.
“So, we will have to sit down and re-formulate our entire approach over the next month or so. In fact, it should be immediately to ensure that we are at the cutting edge of competitiveness.
“We need to make ourselves competitive in the market, and we are able to garner and take those end user markets.”
Reflecting on her recent election as the OPEC President, Alison-Madueke, said such recognition would never have been possible without her appointment as Petroleum Minister by President Goodluck Jonathan and praised him for the courage to do so in the face of daunting challenges.
She said: “First of all, it wouldn’t have happened if the President had not had the courage to appoint a woman into the portfolio of Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which meant that I now headed the country’s delegation to OPEC.
“I must say that was a daunting thing; it happened about three and half years ago. I went into a body, which is completely male-dominated and mostly Arab-dominated as well.
“But I have found that they have come to respect me and respect Nigeria’s voice over the last three years in OPEC very highly.”
The minister, who described her task as OPEC president as challenging, however assured that she would take necessary steps to stabilise global oil prices before anything else.
She said she would watch when it would be necessary to summon an extra-ordinary meeting of the body in order to consider appropriate strategies to shore up the market.
She explained that there had been a lot of differences among key oil players concerning what to do to bail out the market.
She said: “Quite clearly, there has been a battle of wills between certain OPEC countries, the big players and certain non-OPEC countries who are also big players in the world crude oil production markets at this time.
“Many countries, both OPEC and non-OPEC countries, are suffering immensely. Even as we speak Venezuela has gone into austerity measures and is rationing food because they were completely dependent on oil. Angola, Algeria and Iran are all under duress as is Nigeria because it has affected our budgetary benchmark. And even non-OPEC countries like Russia, who would not cut production, are already seeing a drop in the value of their Ruble.
“So, we will be watching very closely as president of OPEC at this time at what point we have to call OPEC Extra Ordinary meeting and reconvene to see whether other strategies can be put into play.”
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