Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the gap in demand for Nigeria’s sweet crude by the United States would be covered by China and India.
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan and President Xi Jinping of China, on Wednesday in Beijing, presided over the signing of five agreements to boost financial, trade, economic, technical and cultural relations between the two countries.
Okonjo-Iweala said this while briefing newsmen on the $3 billion China loan to improve infrastructure in Nigeria.
“China is desirous of increasing its lifting of Nigerian oil,” she said, “U.S. demand for Nigerian oil has fallen, India and China have taken up the slack.”
There has been anxiety in oil industry circles on the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s crude occasioned by the U.S. Shale gas exploitation.
Forecasts have it that Nigerian crude oil exports to the U.S. could fall by over a quarter this year, from 800,000 bpd in 2012 to as low as 580,000 bpd in 2013.
China aims to fill the gap because of the need to meet increased internal consumption, according to Dr. Fu Xiaoplan of Oxford University.
Fu, a Fellow of Green Templeton College at Oxford, said demand for oil is strong among emerging economies including India and Russia, and Nigeria needn’t worry about where to sell her oil.
“I think there is strong demand for oil from China and other emerging economies like India and Russia. So I think there is strong demand from the emerging economies for oil. So I don’t think Nigeria should worry about where to sell its oil.”
Despite the high prospects of oil, she advised Nigeria to walk the talk on diversification of the economy.
The bilateral agreements signed by Nigeria and China, sealed after bilateral talks between the two leaders and their delegations include the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Financial Cooperation in Support of Nigeria’s Economic Development and a Preferential Buyer Credit Agreement for Nigeria’s Four Airports Expansion Project.
According to a release by the Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati, others were agreements on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Mutual Visa Exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports from both countries and the Prevention of the Theft, Illicit Import and Export of Cultural Property. Earlier, President Jonathan met and invited Senior Executives of several Chinese conglomerates to initiate fresh investments in Nigeria and increase existing ones, saying the Federal Government was committed to do everything to expand domestic manufacturing capacity.
At a breakfast meeting with African Ambassadors to China, President Jonathan reaffirmed his conviction that African countries needed to strengthen their institutions of democratic governance to guarantee political stability and sustained development.
He said democratic governance ought to be nurtured and encouraged until it takes firmer root across the continent, adding that the African Union (AU) must continue to stand against unconstitutional changes of government in member states.