Reports from Reuters within the week indicated that Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), a unit of ExxonMobil, will resume shipment of Qua Iboe crude, Nigeria’s largest grade of crude oil in October, three months after the company declared a force majeure on the exports of the grade.
Accordingly, ExxonMobil is offering an October-loading cargo of Qua Iboe crude oil, the first offer since it declared the force majeure. The report however stated that it was not clear if the pipeline through which the crude grade passes had been repaired, or if the company expected it to be back on stream in time to load crude in October.
Notwithstanding, the report noted that the cargo had been offered for October 8 to 16 loading at a premium of $1.80 per barrel to dated Brent. If this sails through, Nigeria could perhaps be on the path to recovery in terms of production and sales volumes.
Before Mobil declared the force majeure, the last ship to reportedly load crude at the Qua Iboe terminal was the Ottoman Nobility on July 9. One of the three other ships scheduled to load the crude had been near the terminal since July 12.
A vessel loads one million barrel of the grade every three to four days, and exports of 250,000 barrels per day aboard eight vessels were scheduled for July when Mobil observed a leak caused by what it described as a “system anomaly” during a routine check of its loading facility on July 14, 2016.
When MPN took this decision, the cause of the leak was not clear, but it came just days after a militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), claimed to have bombed the company’s 48-inch Qua Iboe crude oil export pipeline on July 11.
24 hours after the claim by the militants, the company’s spokesperson, Todd Spitler, however debunked the claim, saying, “there was no attack on our facilities.”
And while ExxonMobil said at the time it declared the force majeure that the export terminal was operating, traders reportedly said the company did not release a revised loading schedule for the crude exports. The new development however suggests that Nigeria was ramping up its production.
Is Stability Returning in Nigeria’s Oil Fields?
In March, Nigeria lost its longstanding position as Africa’s top oil producer to Angola when its oil production dropped to 1.677 million barrels per day (mbpd). Compared to Angola’s 1.782mbpd production then, the country was behind Angola by about 105,000bpd of production volumes.
Nigeria’s trailing Angola was primarily occasioned by resumed militancy in her oil-bearing Delta region in February. From when militant groups resumed bombing oil installations in the region, the country’s production began to slide away from the 2016 budget target of 2.2mbpd.
Six months after, the OPEC in its Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) for September, which was released last Monday, indicated that Nigeria’s oil output had taken a further dip to 1.468mbpd in August from 1.52mbpd recorded in the previous month.
OPEC, which nevertheless, based its report on direct communication with the country, also stated that Angola saw its oil output rise to 1.775mbpd in August from 1.767mbpd the previous month.
The cartel also said Libya’s production dropped to 292,000bpd from 313,000bpd, while Venezuela produced 2.104mbpd, down from 2.117mbpd, Ecuador, 542,000bpd from 549,000bpd it previously recorded, while Iraq saw its production dropped by 2,000 barrels to 4.354mbpd.
The MOMR equally stated that Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer in the group, recorded the biggest increase in August as it produced 10.605mbpd, up from 10.577mbpd in the previous month and Iran which has just come out of a global embargo, continued to increase output in a bid to snap up more market share with 3.653mbpd, up from 3.631mbpd.
Coming with the unstable oil prices in the global market, the situation appears quite difficult for Nigeria. This is even more with OPEC’s forecast of an oversupply into 2017.
Hopes of Stability Still Guarded
About 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign earning comes from oil and gas produced in the Niger Delta but the situation in the region has not improved even with the federal government’s attempt at dialogue with militants.
It is also a fact that for Nigeria to improve her foreign exchange earnings and work out ways to get out of her current economic recession, the Niger Delta region will have to be considered as an important factor.
The region’s light crude oil is sought after by refineries in the US and Europe. Aside this, Nigeria also holds the world’s seventh largest proven gas reserves and supplies up to 10 per cent of global liquefied natural gas, if production shuts-in continue on the scale it is now, the country will produce less as well as have less foreign exchange to balance its trade and perhaps get out of recession.
In addition, terrorism in the Middle East makes Niger Delta an alternative supply source for countries like China and India whose economies have good demands for oil. A restive Niger Delta will however cut whatever gains the country stands to make from such conditions.
Fuelled by agitation for resource control and environmental pollution, the Niger Delta unrest has continued to impact heavily on Nigeria’s oil production. The region has continued to ask for increased control of its oil resources, and adequate compensation for the oil spillage in the area.
Its militants have also indicated the willingness to dialogue with the government, which some weeks back said it had secured their commitment to a ceasefire on vandalism of oil installation and production disruption; the situation has however, remained unchanged going by a recent bombing of an oil pipeline and OPEC’s August production report.
Although the government has not said anything new about its planned dialogue with the militants, it would however appear like the plan has encountered some hitches, thus leading to the bombing of the Afiesere-Iwhrenene major delivery line to UPS/UQCC, operated by Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NDPC) and Shorelines Petroleum in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State by the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM), one of the many militant groups in the early hours of Tuesday.
The attack, which was reportedly confirmed by a leader of the group, Aldo Agbalaja, was almost at the same time the foremost Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) which ceased its bombing of oil facilities last month to dialogue with the government, accused the country’s military of harassing old men, women and innocent youths in the region under the guise of hunting for militants. This therefore raises suspicion that the dialogue may not have started.
According to OPEC, Nigeria in July recorded the biggest increase in oil output from her field. That was however not enough to bring her back to Africa’s top producer.
It said that while OPEC’s collective crude oil production in August was 33.24mbpd, a decrease of 23,000bpd, Nigeria and Libya contributed immensely to the drop.
“Crude oil output increased mainly from Saudi Arabia and Iran, while Nigeria and Libya showed the largest drop,” the MOMR said.
It also said that Africa’s oil supply is projected to average 2.12mbpd in 2016, representing a decline of 20,000bpd year-on-year, with increases however expected from Congo by 50,000
bpd to average 320,000bpd, and Ghana’s production start-up in the Tweneboa, Enyenra, Ntomme project, as well as a production ramp-up in the country’s Jubilee field in the second half of the year.
OPEC also raised its forecast of oil supplies from non-member countries in 2017. It said new fields were expected to come online especially from US shale drillers who have proved more resilient than expected to cheap crude.
It added that demand for its crude will average 32.48mbpd in 2017, down by 530,000bpd from the previous forecast. These forecasts, however, do not look favourable to Nigeria.
With oil prices still under pressure at an average of $47 per barrel, and renewed oversupply concerns, Nigeria now appears to have to contend with two tough challenges – dealing with instability in price and her production levels. The combined effect of these pose serious threats to forex earnings and naira exchange rate stability.
As stated by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2016 edition of its ‘Africa Oil and Gas Review’ published in August, Nigeria is not only affected by the decline in the oil price, but also by the reduced production due to the severe security issues onshore and increased piracy incidents.
PwC further said that: “This is adding an additional layer of complication, causing hesitation among oil majors to invest further. Consequently, many are considering postponing additional investment.”
FIRS Proposes Road Infrastructure Tax
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it is proposing the introduction of Road Infrastructure Tax in Nigeria, to make the informal sector contribute to building a modern society.
The Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, disclosed this on Thursday while receiving a delegation of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its National President, Chris Isiguzo, in his office, in Abuja.
Mr. Nami reportedly said the proposed Road Infrastructure Tax, to be administered by FIRS, will provide the government with adequate funding for road construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance, as well as providing the needed security for roads in the country.
According to the FIRS Executive Chairman, “The only way to make the informal sector contribute to building a modern society is by making them pay when they use the roads.” He stated.
“That is why we are proposing that government should consider introducing Road Infrastructure Tax in Nigeria.“
He noted that “in many jurisdictions, road users pay for the use of road infrastructure as such it shouldn’t be seen as an additional burden on our citizens because it has the potential of making life better for all of us.”
Speaking further, Mr Nami stated that Nigeria’s economy presently relies heavily on non-oil revenues to discharge its statutory responsibility of paying salaries and providing social amenities to the citizenry.
“Without the tax that you pay governments at all levels would not be able to fulfill their mandate to the electorates. Tax money also helps to ensure the roads you travel are safe and always in good condition,” he said.
Mr. Nami also stated that despite sharp practices by some companies who were in the habit of evading taxes, by shifting their capital and profits to tax havens, as well as low revenue from Petroleum Profit Tax, due to the shortfall in crude oil production among other factors, the FIRS has been putting forward critical reforms that have been yielding positive impact on the Service’s operations.
“Adopting technology in tax administration is crucial in improving domestic revenue mobilization in view of dwindling oil prices in order to avoid falling into a debt crisis. It is against this backdrop that the TaxPro-Max became the channel for filing Naira-denominated tax returns effectively from 7th June 2021.
“The TaxPro-Max enables seamless registration, filing of returns, payment of taxes and automatic credit of withholding tax as well as other credits to the Taxpayer’s accounts among other features. The technology also provides a single-view to Taxpayers for all transactions with the Service,” Mr. Nami explained.
The tax agency official also noted that the management of the Service had established two critical units, the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining & Analysis Department (ISDMA) and the Tax Incentive Management Department (TIMD) as part of institutional reforms to generate more revenue and forestall revenue leakages.
“While the TaxProMax will serve as the flagship tool for mining data, it will be complemented by other tools that the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining and Analysis Department department may deploy, with the data engineers in the Department carrying out necessary distillations.
“Management also established the Tax Incentive Management Department to manage, implement and report on tax incentives as provided by relevant extant laws and regulations. The TIMD is specifically in charge of the tax affairs of companies/enterprises enjoying tax exemptions and holidays. Companies enjoying Pioneer incentives, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Cooperative Societies, companies in Export Processing Zones (EPZ), Free Trade Zones (FTZ), Oil and Gas Export Processing Zones (OGEFZ), those engaged in Downstream Gas Utilization and all others enjoying tax holidays are being managed by the TIMD to forestall revenue leakages, such that these companies/enterprises do not use their status as a cover to earn taxable income and refuse to pay tax on such income,” the FIRS chief said.
He added that the service created 10 Value Added Tax (VAT) Regional Coordination Offices across the country to drive the collection of VAT.
COVID-19 Has Permanently Lowered Path of Real GDP in sub-Saharan Africa – IMF
The IMF is predicting that the pandemic has permanently lowered the path of real GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting a loss of real per capita output of close to 5.6 percent in the latest issue of the sub-Saharan Africa Regional Economic Outlook report released Thursday (October 21) in Washington, D.C.
“We estimate that sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will grow by 3.7 percent this year and 3.8 percent in 2022. The recovery is being supported by favorable external conditions on trade and commodity prices. It has also benefited from improved harvests and increased agricultural production in a number of countries. And the recovery, of course, follows the sharp contraction in 2020 and is, of course, very much welcome,” said Abebe Aemro Selassie, head of IMF’s African Department.
The region is on a different recovery path from much of the world. Such global divergence, which is expected to persist over the medium term, reflects sub-Saharan Africa’s slow vaccine rollout and stark differences in policy space.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit by a third wave of the pandemic, this time with the more contagious Delta variant, with infection rates often rising to triple, quadruple the rates seen in earlier waves. Thankfully, this wave has now eased over the past months or so, but there is little reason to believe that there won’t be repeated waves going forward. This is also because vaccination efforts in sub-Saharan Africa have been slower than other regions due mostly to stockpiling by advanced countries, export restrictions by major vaccine manufacturing countries, and additional demands for booster shots that we’re seeing in advanced economies that could further compromise supply. At the moment, only around 3 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has been fully vaccinated, in sharp contrast to most advanced economies that are close to the 60 percent or more level of vaccination,” explained Selassie.
The region’s recovery remains highly vulnerable to changes in the global outlook, including a tightening of global financial conditions.
“Policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa need to navigate an increasingly difficult and complex policy environment. Against the backdrop of a context of weaker than expected growth, policymakers need to navigate among three formidable pressures, pressing spending needs to address the many social and human capital and infrastructure needs they face, limited borrowing capacity given the already high public debt levels in most cases, and the time consuming and politically difficult nature of mobilizing tax revenues. How deftly countries navigate this trilemma, as we’ve been calling it, will have a huge bearing on macroeconomic wellbeing of countries as well as economic growth prospects,” said Selassie.
Nollywood, a Potential Growth Driver – Coronation Merchant Bank
Drawing on data provided by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released its report on Nollywood Movies Production for Q2 ‘21. Given that the sector’s performance is strongly linked to consumer confidence, trends within the industry can be regarded as a sound indicator of private consumption.
The Nigerian film industry is the largest in Africa in terms of value, number of annual films, revenue and popularity. It is also globally recognised as the second largest film producer in the world in terms of output. Based on the NBS report, Nollywood produced 635 movies in Q2 ’21 compared with 416 in Q1 ’21. This points towards growth of 53.9% q/q and 1.4% y/y. We note that during the period under review, Lagos had the highest number of movies produced with 234 movies, followed by Abuja (196 movies). However, Benin and Port-Harcourt recorded the least movies produced in Q2 ’21 with 7 movies each.
The national accounts from the NBS show that the entertainment industry grew by 1.2% y/y in Q2 ’21. This is compared with a contraction of -1.1% y/y recorded in the previous quarter. However, the sector’s contribution to total GDP declined from 0.3% in Q1 ’21 to 0.2% in Q2 ’21.
The global film industry suffered setbacks during the pandemic, leading to the halt of film production and the closure of cinemas. In Nigeria, several film shoots were placed on hold or scrapped and professionals across the industry struggled to earn wages. Industry sources suggest that the estimated losses for the sector have reached c. USD9m and that at least 50,000 jobs have been lost.
However, there has been a considerable pickup in activity following the easing of lockdown restrictions across the country. Another challenge faced by the film industry in Nigeria is the significant loss of revenue that arises from the illegal exploitation of intellectual property. A World Bank report estimates that for every legitimate copy (of a Nigerian film) sold, nine others are pirated.
Furthermore, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report estimated that the country lost USD3bn in revenue from creative works in 2019 due to digital piracy.
Funding is another challenge in the Nigerian film industry. However, over the past ten years, Nigerian filmmakers and entrepreneurs have started to gain access to new types of funding from different sources such as the federal government, international organisations, as well as private investors. We recall that in 2019, the Federal Government introduced the Creative Industry Finance Initiative (CIFI), where players within the film industry such as production and distribution companies can potentially access as high as N500m, at a maximum interest
rate of 9%, with an allowance of up to ten years for loan repayment.
As a purely economic process, gentrification in the film industry requires that the industry be formalised. In Bollywood, the establishment of film academies and corporatisation of the industry are steps that transformed the Indian film industry.
The recognition of filmmaking as an approved industrial activity in India led to structural changes that have helped to reshape the industry. However, we note that the presence of investors prompted the transformation of the industry. For Nollywood, there is the need for more government support through its regulatory agencies.
The role of the government as an enabler is important, as its proactive stance on some of the challenges that have hindered growth within the industry should boost investors’ confidence.
The Nigerian film industry is a low-hanging fruit for Nigeria with regards to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. The agreement is likely to boost Nigeria’s film industry market, as the agreement is expected to expand consumer market on the back of the combined population of 1.3 billion Africans.
Based on a recently released UNESCO report, it is estimated that Africa’s film industry contributes at least USD5bn to Africa’s total revenue annually. Furthermore, the second phase of AfCFTA implementation which focuses on intellectual property rights should have a positive impact on the film industry, as one of the objectives is to create a single, unified jurisdiction for the administration of intellectual property rights in Africa.
The expectation is that increased certainty, stability and confidence in intellectual property rights would encourage creativity and innovation across the continent. For Nigeria’s film industry to maximise the opportunities within the AfCFTA, structural issues need to be addressed. In addition, investments in broadband (internet) infrastructure and creative content could further bolster the growth of the film industry in Nigeria. Furthermore, strengthening the creative industry (Nollywood inclusive) will assist with easing pressure on Nigeria’s unemployment rate as the industry is capable of providing jobs for skilled job seekers. In addition, the industry is well-positioned to boost fx earnings via exports.
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