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External Reserves Down as CBN Settles Matured Obligations

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Nigeria’s external reserves diminished to $25.860 billion as at August 12, 2016, following the settlement of matured obligation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The latest external reserves position revealed by the CBN showed that the reserves derived mostly from the proceeds of crude oil sales fell by 1.9 per cent or N514 million in the last one month, compared with the $26.374 billion it was as at July 12, 2016.

Following the lifting of the peg on the naira on June 20, the central bank conducted a Special Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to clear the backlog of $4.02 billion pent-up demand for forex.

According to the CBN, it sold $532 million on the spot market and $3.487billion in the forwards market. A breakdown of the $3.487 billion forward sales by the central bank had shown that $697 billion was for one month (1M), $1.22 billion for two months (2M) and $1.57 billion for three months (3M). Also last month, the central bank settled one-month forward contracts of $697 million.

The naira, which closed at N317.34 to the dollar on the interbank forex market on Monday has been under pressure in the forex market as complaints of scarcity of the greenback persist.

The central bank ditched its 16-month old peg on the naira in June and introduced a flexible exchange rate regime to allow the currency to trade freely on the interbank market.

But as a result of forex scarcity in the system which had resulted to the strong volatility observed in the forex market, the banking sector intervened last week in its bid to achieve exchange rate stability.

Oil prices rose on Monday to their highest in nearly a month as speculation intensified about potential producer action to support prices in an oversupplied market. Brent crude was up $1.19, or 2.5 per cent, at $48.16 per barrel. The international benchmark futures are up about 13 per cent above the last close in July.

Crude oil prices recorded nearly 20 per cent climb in April to about $46 per barrel. OPEC crude-oil production surged by 484,000 barrels to 33.217 million a day in April, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The external reserves were expected to decline further due to the settlement of large swap positions between the banks and the CBN.

The federal government last week said it had saved about N1.4 trillion that would have been paid as subsidy to oil marketers as a result of the successful deregulation of the downstream oil and gas sector a few months ago.

Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo who disclosed this while speaking at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2016 Presidential Policy Dialogue Session also said the Nigerian economy remained resilient despite the huge challenges and downside potentials.

According to the vice president, refineries in the country were expected to resume operation in full capacity before the end of 2017,having set a medium to long term strategy in motion to overhaul and sort them out.

“Of course, the medium to long term plan is to sort out the refineries; it is important for us to deal with refineries because as many of us have well known, one of the largest foreign exchange cost for us is the importation of petroleum products and at the moment, most of our refineries are operating at sub-optimum and what we are able to refine is negligible compared to what is required on daily basis.

“The recent introduction of flexible exchange rate regime, which was meant to ease pressure on external reserves, is of course one issue I am sure many will still want to comment on. But I think that the immediate effect of the devaluation and depreciation of the naira and some of the consequences which include inflation is to be expected and I believe that as we see the implementation of that policy and clearer focus on a truly flexible exchange rate, we will be able to see the actual benefit of of this policy. I believe that the foreign exchange market will stabilise; confidence will be restored and there will be an increase in the supply of foreign exchange, especially due to inward investments,” he added.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Energy

Fuel Scarcity: Petrol Sells N220 Per Litre in Nsukka

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Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise called petrol, now sells for between N200 and N220 per liter at the independent marketers’ service stations in Nsukka, Enugu State.

The News Agency of Nigeria is reporting the hike in the price against the official pump price of N162 per liter.

It said it started about a fortnight ago due to the scarcity of the commodity in the town and its environs.

Some residents of the town expressed deep worry over the development in separate interviews with NAN on Wednesday.

A civil servant, Stephen Ozioko, said the situation had further compounded the economic difficulties in the area.

Ozioko said many private car owners had been compelled to park their vehicles at home and move around in public transport.

He said: “Since the scarcity started, I decided to park my car and take public transport to the office and back home. N220 per liter is exorbitant and I cannot afford it considering my salary as a civil servant. I shall continue to use public transport until the situation returns to normal.”

A building material dealer, Timothy Ngwu, said the development had also led to an increase in transport fare in the area.

Ngwu said: “Some people now trek from Nsukka Old Park to Odenigbo Roundabout because of the 100 percent hike in fares from N50 to N100 by tricycle.

“Before now, transport fare from Nsukka to Enugu was N500, but transporters now charge between N800 and N1000.”

Also, a commuter bus driver, Victor Ogbonna, described the scarcity and hike in the price of petrol as “unfortunate and an ugly development”.

Ogbonna added: “Today, only a few filling stations are selling the commodity in Nsukka town, while others are shut.”

He alleged that some filling stations, which claimed to be out-of-stock, were selling to black marketers at night.

He said: “This is why black marketers have sprung up everywhere in the town, selling the commodity for about N300 per liter.”

NAN reports that virtually all the major marketers in the area have stopped the sale of petrol, claiming to be out-of-stock.

The people called on the government to urgently intervene in order to bring the situation under control and also put an end to its harsh economic effects on the messes.

NAN.

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Energy

DPR Targets N3.2T Revenue by Year-End

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Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will hit the N3.2 trillion revenue target by December 2021, according to its Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sarki Auwalu.

Auwalu made the disclosure when he led a delegation of the DPR management team to the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Bello Gusau, in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that 70 percent of the revenue projection had already been met. “Last year, we exceed our revenue budget. We were given N1.5 trillion but we were able to generate N2.7trillion.

“This year, our revenue budget was N3.2 trillion. By the end of August 2021, we have generated up to 70 per cent.

“So, we with September, October, November and December, it is only the 30 per cent that we will work over,’’ he said

He noted that the government took advantage of fiscal terms within the old and new legislation, thereby creating a level of increased signature bonuses.

“We reorganise the work programme that is normally being done in the DPR to key into the new operational structure as we see it in the bill, now an act.

“That programme is being handled by the planning and strategic business unit as against what we use to have because the entire work programme is supposed to show not only technical but also commercial and viability of oil fields and to guarantee the return on investment for investors.

“We have also created an economic value and benchmarking unit to key into the new fiscal provisions of the PIA,’’ he said.

Commenting on capacity, Auwalu said the country stands at the advantage of exporting skills to emerging oil and gas countries across Africa with proper implementation of the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.

This, he said, the DPR was ready to partner with the Fund to continue to build capacity in the oil and gas sector

He noted that the Federal Government was determined to create leeway that would encourage investors and drastically improve the nation’s petroleum industry.

He further noted that no fewer than 300 legal battles in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, which had been stalled for the past 20 years in courts, had been resolved through alternative dispute resolution.

According to Auwalu, the DPR is strategising well to ensure effective implementation of the PIA.

Responding, Gusau commended the DPR for enabling the industry and enhancing business activities in the oil and gas sector.

He said that DPR remained the head of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria adding that the Fund was grateful to benefit from the wealth of ideas from DPR.

“The last time we visited, we had a good discussion and issues raised are being implemented like tracking the inflow of funds in signature bonus accounts.

“We extended the meeting and involved ministry of Finance, Accountant General office and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Sitting at field development plans and attending significant meetings, helped us to know where and what the industry is trying to do and it also helps to inform our decisions in training and capacity plans,’’ he said

He urged the DPR to continue on its effort to ensure an efficient and productive petroleum industry in Nigeria

He assured collaboration with all as the head of the implementation committee of the Petroleum Industry Act. (NAN)

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Energy

Lagos Signs MoU With Energy Firms On Power Supply

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Lagos State Government, through its Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, on Tuesday signed a Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with Ikeja Electric and Sahara Power Group to increase power supply and provide uninterrupted power to residents of the State.

The agreement between Lagos State Government and the energy firms signed will also include the distribution of free prepaid meters to low-income areas, with the pilot phase of 20,000 meters to be distributed in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the State.

Speaking during the signing of the agreement at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olalere Odusote, said the aim of the agreement is to increase power supply to at least 22 hours daily, from about eight to 12 hours daily.

The Commissioner said the implementation would start immediately, adding that Lagos State Government has identified a number of feeders that can provide power in 20,000 low-income areas with plans to replicate the initiative across the state.

He said: “This Memoranda of Agreement is to ensure the provision of uninterrupted power to residents, especially the low-income areas. It is also part of efforts to solve the problem of metering and infrastructure deficit to ensure these areas get power supply which is also measurable.

“The 20,000 meters have been procured by the state government and would be distributed free to low-income areas in Alimosho Local Government Area as the pilot phase. Our intention is to replicate this gesture in other areas of the state once the pilot phase is successfully executed.

“We have identified a number of feeders that can provide power in these communities and implementation would start immediately.”

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC), Folake Soetan expressed the firm’s readiness to support Lagos State Government in ensuring uninterrupted power supply to residents of the State.

In his address, the Managing Director of Sahara Power Group, Anthony Youdeowei, said his company will be transparent in its dealings with the Lagos State Government and Ikeja Electric to provide power supply for Lagosians.

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