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OPEC scribe hails FG over seamless exit from joint cash-call debt

The visiting Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and former managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, has commended Nigeria for exiting the Joint Venture Cash Call debt. Cash calls is the counterpart funding which the Federal Government, represented by the NNPC, annually pays as its 60 per cent equity shareholding in various oil and gas fields.

It is operated by international oil companies in the country for more than four decades and indigenous oil firms and Nigeria owe arrears of $6.8 billion.

Speaking in Abuja at a World press briefing jointly presented with the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, he said commended Kachikwu for securing the feat on behalf of government.

Kachikwu had revealed an outstanding debt of $5.1 billion would be paid over five years through incremental oil production volumes.

Barkindo said “I must single out the frontal approach on the lingering issue of funding our exploration as well as production, the JVC.

“Many of my colleagues, here that we served together, will testify that government after government, regime after regime we have battled with this issue continuously without solution.

“This is a confession; the day you overcame this issue that had beleaguered this industry as well as government, you made my day.

“Same for the day of all participants who knew what the government had battled to stay afloat on the issue of cash-call.

“The approach has been innovative, the solution is very practical.

“You are clearing an overhaul of debt too high, yet maintaining the level of production.

“You also focus on an incremental level of growth that will continue to sustain not only the industry but also the domestic economy.”

Explaining more, Barkindo commended Kachikwu for securing the feat on behalf of government and also hailed Nigerian government for embracing diversification, disclosing that it was a topical issue that arose during his member-visits to other OPEC countries.

Barkindo said: “I am just coming from Saudi Arabia, the largest producer who depends solely on oil and gas but it came up with a programme to diversify its economy within the context of the vision 2030.

“Therefore, I urge all colleagues and industry chieftains to rally round the honourable minister to march forward.

“Despite all reform programmes on diversification which we support, we should support farming. Diversification for now remains the music for the future.

“Our economies will continue to determine what you do, and with what we have seen, the future is brighter than what we have hitherto expected.”

On his visit to Nigeria, Barkindo said he had to insist on reducing his entourage to Nigeria because everyone was willing to come to Nigeria and see firsthand Kachikwu’s “giant strides”.

The OPEC boss however, thanked Dr. Kachikwu for building the confidence of OPEC members, noting that “The minister was able to convince OPEC member countries to drop their candidates for his candidate”.

Another salient revelation he made during the conference was how Nigeria, Algeria and other members of OPEC lost cumulative revenue of about $1tn as a result of the crash in crude oil prices, saying chances of recovery are insight if the cuts are continued to be sustained.