By Abimbola Ogunnaike
A newly-released data from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) Tuesday, 12 June, 2023 revealed that Nigeria’s crude oil output grew by 185,000 barrels per day to hit 1.183 million barrels daily output in May this year after a dismal outing in April.
This emerged as the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) issued export terminal licenses to NNPC Exploration and Production Limited (NEPL) and Belema Sweet Export Terminal Limited to add over four million barrels to Nigeria’s crude export storage capacity. Speaking at a signing ceremony in Abuja, the Chief Executive of the NMDPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed, said the development was in line with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which empowers it to do so.
The Gbenga Komolafe-led NUPRC in its latest oil production figures, also showed that output (crude and condensate) from Nigeria’s problematic Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) increased considerably during the month from 3 million barrels to 3.7 million barrels.
While overall, oil production output grew 18.53 per cent compared to April 2023 when it fell to 998,602 bpd, total liquids in May was largely boosted by the increased flow through the TNP line which jumped 24 per cent.
Although total self-reported drilling by the NUPRC stood at 1.183 million barrels per day, but when condensate, which is excluded from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) computation is added, the data highlighted that output rose from 1.245 million bpd in April 2023, to 1.427 million bpd last month.
However, despite the over 18 per cent additional output in May, Nigeria’s expected crude oil volume was still a far cry from the 1.742 million bpd allocated to the country by the international oil cartel.
Already, OPEC has cut Nigeria’s production to 1.38 million bpd in 2024, due to the country’s inability to consistently meet its quota, but however said that the production figure could be upped to 1.57 million bpd if production improves by January 2024.
Also, the NUPRC data disclosed there was an improvement in the volume of crude oil production transported through the problematic TNP into the Bonny terminal.
Massive loss of production through the line last year drew criticism from top Nigerians, including the Chairman of Heirs Holding, Tony Elumelu and even the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
Considered as one of Nigeria’s biggest oil pipelines, the TNP, aside other smaller oilfields in the Niger Delta, majorly moves crude from the Bonny Export Terminal. The TNP currently transports about 180,000 barrels of crude per day to the Bonny export terminal.
At the Nigerian Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair (NOGOF) in Bayelsa last month, the Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, disclosed that the company in collaboration with partners, detected and removed 460 illegal connections to the line before it could be reused.
The lines are gradually returning on-stream after concerted efforts by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Nigeria’s security agencies and local security groups in the Niger Delta to curb the menace of oil theft and vandalism which had continued to hobble Nigeria’s ability to raise output.
Other key terminals which yielded considerable volumes of crude in May, according to NUPRC, included Qua Iboe, where production of crude oil alone was ramped up from 1.9 million to 4.1 million barrels during the month.
Recall that the force majeure declared by Exxon Mobil, which operates the facility, affected the production on the asset after the workers of the company declared a strike in April bordering on welfare issues.
In addition, Forcados increased production volume from 4.8 million barrels to 6 million barrels during the month of May.
Meanwhile, OPEC in its Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) released on Tuesday, left its forecast for 2023 global oil demand growth steady for a fourth month, but admitted that the world economy faced rising uncertainty and slower growth in Q2 of 2023.
Global oil demand this year will rise by 2.35 million barrels per day, or 2.4 per cent, OPEC said, leaving it virtually unchanged from the 2.33 million bpd forecast last month.
“There are rising uncertainties regarding economic growth in the second half of 2023 amid ongoing high inflation, already elevated key interest rates and tight labour markets,” OPEC said in its report.
“Moreover, it is still unclear as to how and when the geopolitical conflict in Eastern Europe might be resolved,” it added, referring to the war between Russia and Ukraine.