Barely two months after recovering the African top oil producer from Angola, Nigeria has lost the position again to the same country following drop in crude sales traced to oil theft surge in recent times.
Nigeria’s crude oil production fell by 156,900 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.269 million bpd in March, from 1.426mbpd recorded in February. Consequently, the country lost its status as Africa’s top oil producer to Angola, according to latest data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
With the cumulative loss of 4.8 million barrels in the month under review put in cost at the prevailing $55.89 per barrel for Brent crude, Nigeria is estimated to have lost over $271.8 million (N82.8 billion).
Going by the Federal Government’s 2017 budget proposals, the sum could have substantially funded the expenditure for water resources, put at N85 billion. This is particularly important, given the outbreak of leprosy in some parts of the northern region due to the absence of potable water.
Analysts say this is not the first time the nation will lose its premier position to the former Portuguese enclave, spurred majorly by crude shut-ins resulting from either militant attacks or facility maintenance by oil companies.
Nigerian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc had shut down the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, which exports Bonny Light crude oil, in order to remove theft points.
It would be recalled that the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Osagie Okunbor, had disclosed that the company was working to remove a significant number of oil theft connections and effect repairs on the pipeline.
Nigeria recorded the biggest drop in output in March among its peers in OPEC, followed by Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest producer. The 13-member cartel, in its latest monthly oil market report for April, said Nigeria recorded the biggest decline of about 157,000bpd in the period under review.
But OPEC members pumped a combined 31.93 million barrels daily last month, down by 153,000 bpd from February. Saudi Arabia was said to have produced 9.9 million bpd in March, more than 100,000 bpd below its monthly quota under the production cut deal.