Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met with the Minister of State, Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mela Kyari, separately, behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Both men declined to answer questions at the end of their meetings with the president. The meeting followed escalating tension between the United States and Iran after the killing of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani. President Donald Trump, last week, ordered the killing resulting in subsequent retaliatory attacks on military bases housing American troops in Iraq.
On Monday, Brent crude, the global benchmark, gained 2.4% to reach $70.24 per barrel, the first time in seven months that prices have hit that high. Analysts warned that the action could escalate tensions in the region and affect global oil production. The price hike pushed oil stocks on the London stock exchange higher, with BP up 2.7% and Royal Dutch Shell nearly 1.9% higher.
Meanwhile, Sylva had Friday last week said that the ongoing scuffles between the United States of America’s and Iran will not affect the oil prices that the oil prices have been on the increase even before the crisis. The minister told a select few of journalists that, “As at now Nigeria is not complaining because, two days before the incident, oil was already $68 per barrel, well over our bench mark of $60 for 2020 budget.”
Sylva said that the crises would affect oil price in one way or the other but “Nigeria is hoping that the world remains peaceful and that things continue to remain peaceful. It is a very sad thing, we shouldn’t think that way. We don’t want crisis in the world. What we say in the oil industry is that we don’t want prices of oil too high or too low, we want it at a certain level.
“Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) always says we don’t want too high price for oil or too low price for oil, we want the price to remain at a certain point. Having said that, we know that tensions like this will lead to oil price increase but if you look at it from the backdrop of what is prevailing now; Iraq has always been a crisis territory.
“Today in OPEC Iraq is not given any quota as such because they are not a major producer because, of their crisis. They are not able to produce oil, so if you have more crises in Iraq, I don’t think it will significantly affect what is happening around the world,” he said.