The decline in crude oil prices did not come as a surprise as it had been long predicted but those responsible for managing the nation’s economy to no action to cushion the effect, according to the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
The National President of NACCIMA, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, said during a press briefing on the state of the nation, in Lagos, that over the years, the association had consistently warned that the price of the Nigerian crude oil, which sold at over $110 per barrel at its peak, was not sustainable.
Abubakar, who was represented at the briefing by the First Deputy National President of the association, Bassey Edem, said the fall in prices was inevitable following the production of shale oil by the United States and the global economic slowdown, which had resulted in less demand for crude oil.
“Increased productions from Iran and Saudi Arabia have also flooded the market with negative effects on prices,” he said.
He noted that the fall in prices was not the only problem facing the country, adding that oil theft, shutdown in production, illegal refineries, pipelines vandalism and royalties’ payment default as identified by the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and others were also major problems that should be tackled as a matter of urgency.
The NACCIMA boss said, “These are estimated to cost Nigeria billions of dollars every year. Even the Excess Crude Account has been run down from $9bn to $2bn in the past 18 months.
“We urge the Federal Government to demonstrate the political will needed to frontally and effectively address the challenges in the overall interest of the economy by passing the Petroleum Industry Bill and ensure the full implementation of the Local Content Act so as to improve employment generation in the oil and gas sector.”
Abubakar stated that the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta should also be empowered to crush oil thieves, while the existing refineries in the country should be totally overhauled to enable them produce at full capacity, thereby maintaining local employment and saving the nation foreign exchange used in the importation of refined products.
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