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Niger Delta Nationalities Forum Seeks Buhari’s Intervention in OPL 245 Dispute

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  • Niger Delta Nationalities Forum Seeks Buhari’s Intervention in OPL 245 Dispute

The Niger Delta Nationalities Forum in Lagos has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the protracted dispute involving Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245, stressing that it is an act of injustice that the only oil block awarded to an indigene of Niger Delta by the late General Sani Abacha has become a source of unending dispute.

The Forum also lauded the federal government’s decision to dialogue with leaders of Niger Delta region to find solution to the crisis in the region, describing it as the best option for the country.

Speaking to journalists in Lagos at the weekend, the Chairman of the Forum, Mr. Seigha Manager said the people of the region were grateful to the late General Sani Abacha for creating Bayelsa State and allocating three oil blocks to the deserving Nigerian citizens from the Southeast, Northeast and South-south (Niger Delta).

He identified the three oil blocks as Oil Prospecting Leases (OPLs) 244, OPL 245 and OPL 246. According to him, OPL 245 was the only oil block allocated to a Niger Delta citizen.

“While the other two have enjoyed peace and tranquility in the hands of their owners, that of the Niger Delta citizen, OPL 245, is akin to a bird standing on a tiny rope. Neither the bird nor the rope has seen peace till date. It is the only oil block that every passing regime has poked into simply because the allottee is a Niger Deltan. It is the only oil block that has been allocated, cancelled, later returned to the allottee and then is under probe at any given time. All of this is happening because the allottee is from the Niger Delta, yet the owner does not fall in the bracket of rich persons in Nigeria not to talk of Africa. There are other issues like that,” Manager said.

He argued that the allegation by Senator Ita Enang that about 85 per cent of oil blocks were allocated to northerners and others to the exclusion of Niger Deltans was not a false allegation, adding that the only oil block allocated to a Niger Deltan has become a source of dispute.

He urged President Buhari as a man of integrity to intervene in the OPL 245 matter.

“Even when these oil blocks are domiciled in our backyard where the oil exploration and exploitation activities affect our people, other Nigerians do not think we deserve to own anything relating to oil in the Niger Delta. These are the things that bring restiveness to the Niger Delta. Therefore, I am appealing to Mr. President and even the national assembly members, whom we know that as at today, have constituted committees again and again to probe this particular oil block, to please sympathise with us in the Niger Delta and allow us to have some peace.”

Manager said the dialogue with the Niger Delta was delayed probably because President Buhari was “overwhelmed by the undue pressure and misinformation from either his party or overzealous folks, otherwise as a former head of state, a former governor of the old eastern region, a former oil minister and a former Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) chairman, he should be the most qualified, most guided and most experienced leader to handle the Niger Delta crisis with utmost care”.

“The president is today doing what he should have done since last year; just like what Obasanjo did in 1999 as well as Yar’Adua in 2007. In any case, it is better late than never,” Manager added.

On the expectations of the people of Niger Delta from President Buhari, Manager said the people wanted due respect as stakeholders in Nigeria without discrimination.

According to him, the Niger Delta has rejected the second class citizenship status, which other regions try to bestow on the region.

To support his allegation that the major tribes treated the Niger Delta as second class citizens in a country, Manager alleged that the people of the region were shortchanged in allocation of oil blocks.

“The richest woman in Nigeria cum Africa is from the southwest and her source of wealth is oil. The richest man in Nigeria cum Africa is from the northwest and his wealth is largely tied to oil exploit. The second richest man in Nigeria and fifth in Africa is from the northeast and he is simply an oil magnate. Again, the third richest man in Nigeria and eighth in Africa is still from the northeast and he is also another oil magnate. Oil block allocation is the prerogative of the president of Nigeria at any point in time and when he allocates, until such allocation is changed by law, it remains so,” he explained.

To solve the militancy problem in the Niger Delta, he suggested that President Buhari should look into the issue of Amnesty Programme and give it every support that is necessary.

“He should bring in more restive youths into it and pay them their stipend as and when due. Although we talk of the infrastructural development and all sorts of development in Niger Delta, the one that is immediate and can affect the lives of the youth is the amnesty, which is the only successful interventionist programme in Niger Delta,” he said.

He also urged the president to make up his mind to fund other interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Niger Delta Ministry, properly or scrap them completely.

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.

Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

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Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.

PRICES

  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

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Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return

Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brent crude was up $1.38, or 2.2%, at $64.29 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate gained $1.38, or 2.33%, to trade at $60.62 per barrel.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.

“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.

OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.

“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.

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Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

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Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather

Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.

The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.

Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.

“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.

However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister, warned that it was too early to declare victory against the COVID-19 virus and that oil producers must remain “extremely cautious”.

“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.

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