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‘Over $1.5 billion debt repayment spurring rise in oil output’

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that Nigeria’s effort to reduce debt owed to its foreign oil partners is progressing well and helping the country to bolster exploration and production.

NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, in a statement, said: “So far, we have repaid over $1.5 billion out of the $5.1 billion cash-call arrears to date.

“This has not only restored the confidence of international oil companies and our joint venture partners, but has also led to improved reserves growth and crude oil production.”

However, according to secondary sources in the March report of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria recorded 1.73mb/d while S&P Global Platts survey puts the nation’s output at 1.84mbpd from 1.88 million b/d in February.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had recently tasked indigenous operators to step up their investments and take over major operations from international oil companies, especially as many are already considering divesting and charting new paths.

Meanwhile, industry officials and analysts said apart from the relative peace in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s commitment to settling its cash-call debts in the last two years has helped to boost production.

“Certainly, because the government is meeting cash-call payments regularly and paying up old debts owed to joint venture partners, oil companies are more confident now,’’ energy analyst, Abiodun Adesanya, said.