‘The wise build bridges’

OPEC Bulletin Commentary March 2018

One of OPEC’s most outstanding strengths is the unity it has achieved despite the wide geographical range of its Member Countries. This unity has not only fostered the growth of what has, in 57 years, become one of the leading energy organizations in the world; it has also strengthened the diplomatic, commercial and political ties among a rather diverse group of countries. And the camaraderie and strength that has come of this continue to be among the Organization’s most remarkable qualities.

While OPEC has regularly celebrated this unity through diversity, invoking a common voice in response to the various challenges that have faced the oil markets over the years, it has continued to emphasize the unique importance of each Member Country. In fact, over the years, in the pages of this publication, we have regularly profiled our Member Countries, considering their economies, profiling their energy sectors, exploring their cultures and traditions, and generally celebrating their national achievements.

With this month’s ‘special edition’, we turn our attention to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which joined the Organization in 1971 and which has, since then, provided able leadership and important support to the Organization. Additionally, since August of 2016, in the august person of OPEC’s Secretary General, Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Nigeria has provided the OPEC Secretariat with its most recent chief executive.

It was through his untiring efforts during the ‘marathon’ of consultations and conversations that OPEC was able not only to capitalize on the unity among its Member Countries but, more importantly, reach out to other non-OPEC producing countries and ‘build bridges’ — in the process establishing a sound framework for cooperation. As an old Nigerian proverb states: “In a moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.” It was precisely this kind of bridge-building that resulted in the historic ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ of December 10, 2016.

Nigeria thus holds a unique place far beyond its contribution to the Organization and its recent successes. It is also a land of superlatives. With an area of around 924,000 square kilometres, it is the most populous country within OPEC with around 177 million total inhabitants. The city of Abuja alone — which has served as the country’s capital since 1991 — has a population of more than one million.

Located on Africa’s western coast on the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria is rich in many natural resources: natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. But it is petroleum that is truly the engine of Nigeria’s development.

Though oil was not discovered until 1956 — in Oloibiri, Nigeria’s Bayelsa State — years of pain-staking work and patient investments have helped develop the hydrocarbons sector. The country has since flourished. Oil and gas now account for about 35 per cent of its gross domestic product, and petroleum exports produce over 90 per cent of total exports revenue.

According to OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin, in 2016, Nigeria produced 1.43 million b/d of petroleum and earned a total of $27.79 billion through petroleum exports. This is set to continue and, looking ahead, with 37.45 billion barrels in proven crude reserves, the country has a place of importance in the energy supply of the future. It also has 5,480bn cubic metres of proven natural gas reserves, which provides it with yet another important national revenue stream.

But it’s not just the country’s extensive natural resources and enviable raw commercial data that proudly puts Nigeria in the spotlight. Increasingly, the country has become a destination for international events — particularly those related to energy and hydrocarbons.

In February, for example, Nigeria played host to the first ever Nigerian International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) which, as our report in this edition explains, “was aimed at replicating in Africa the type of knowledge exchange, problem-solving discussions and networking opportunities” that other industry events provide. With the esteemed attendance of some of the leading personalities of the oil industry in Nigeria and the region, NIPS was an event not to be missed. (Even if one did, however, our round-up provides readers with the main take-aways of that successful event.)

This ‘special edition’ of the OPEC Bulletin focusing on Nigeria also includes an exclusive interview with Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. With years of experience in his country’s oil industry — and wisdom that goes far beyond his years — the Minister speaks to us about the success of NIPS, the role of OPEC in energy affairs and the fundamental importance of the landmark ‘Declaration of Cooperation’. As he puts it, that decision was responsible for the “great rejuvenation of OPEC.”

It’s not all business and commerce, however. This edition also offers readers a brief profile of the city of Abuja, as well as an interesting description of some of the country’s most colourful and most famous cultural festivals.

Perhaps in the future we might be able to offer readers a report from one of these cultural events and bring the country to life through the written word. For the moment, however, there can be little doubt that a visit to Nigeria is almost requisite for world travellers. Whether it is for business or touristic reasons, a Nigerian sojourn will allow one to experience the country’s lush natural beauty, the brightness of its colourful festivals and the sincere warmth of the people.

And as one looks out beyond the mesmerizing intricacies of Abuja, perhaps out over the vast panorama of the southern lowlands or across the stunning clearness of the Niger River, one may feel unexpectedly connected to this land — and be in a position to better understand the words of the famed Nigerian poet Olu Oguibe:

I have walked the footpaths of this land
Climbed the snake-routes of its hills
I have known the heat of its noon
I am bound to this land in blood.

OPEC Bulletin March 2018

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