Nigerian President promises increase in oil production

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Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua said Thursday in Paris that his administration would work to raise Nigeria’s crude oil production capacity from the current 2 million barrels per day to 4 million bpd by the 2010, a statement from the Nigerian presidency said.

Addressing the press at the Elysee Palace, after talks with President Nicholas Sarkozy of France, President Yar’Adua said he had discussed rising crude oil prices with the French leader.

The President said that he also assured his French counterpart that Nigeria’s preference was for “stable, sustainable and predictable oil prices”, rather than unpredictable prices which, he said, would not help anyone in the long run.

Though Nigeria’s quota under the OPEC oil cartel is over 2 million bpd, the country is currently producing less than 2 million bpd due to the violence in the oil region.

Yar’Adua said that he had received a promise from President Sarkozy of French support and assistance to Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea nations for the enhancement of maritime security and surveillance capabilities to further protect the energy resources of the region.

President Yar’Adua said that he and President Sarkozy also agreed on the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and France, in view of the strategic importance of both countries to the development of the African continent.

Responding to questions, President Yar’Adua said that with the withdrawal of Shell from Ogoniland, in the oil producing Niger Delta region, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would become the operator of oil prospecting license covering the area, which is currently held by a Shell/NNPC joint venture.

He expressed the belief that with the departure of Shell from their land, the Ogoni would now “calm down”.

On Zimbabwe, President Yar’Adua denied that African leaders had refused to take a stand on the situation in that country.

“Our position is that the laws of Zimbabwe should be observed, that the run-off elections must be free and fair and the election dispute resolved according to the rule of law,” he said.

The President also announced that Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon would head a 30-man ECOWAS team to observe the Zimbabwe run-off, scheduled for 27 June. Panapress .

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