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Oil prices decline despite OPEC+ production cut

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…as Chinese refiners seek cheaper alternatives from Nigeria, Russia

The announce ment of crude oil output cut of around 800,000 bpd by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies -OPEC+, has failed to yield its expected result, as the price of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) declined to $75.48 per barrel and $70.80/b on Tuesday after rising to $76.71/b and $72.15/b respectively during the week.

Brent crude added some $2.60 per barrel and WTI jumped by over $3 per barrel on Monday from $76.13/b and $71.74/b respectively on Friday, June, 2, 2023.

It was gathered during its 35th Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) meeting held in Vienna, Austria, the oil cartel agreed to reduce overall production targets from January 2024 until 31 December 2024, by a further 1.4 million bpd to a combined 40.46 million bpd.

The cartel had as of April 3, 2023 had agreed to a total volume of cut to 3.66 million, which was made up of 2 million bpd cut agreed last year from August 2022 production levels, and a further 1.66 million bpd of voluntary cuts from nine OPEC+ countries in April 2023, translating to 3.7 per cent of global demand.

During the meeting, nine countries including Nigeria, Sudan, Brunel, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Angola and Russia that also participated in the meeting agreed to an additional voluntary production cut from July, which resulted in an even lower target of 38.81 million bpd.

Russia, Nigeria, and Angola’s production quotas were reduced by the cartels to bring them in line with declining production levels.

The production cut by the nine countries was extended from July to the end of 2024. Saudi Arabia also unilaterally pledged further production cuts lower to 9 million b/d in July, below its normal output range.

Nigeria’s production quota was lowered to 1.38 million barrels per day after many months of struggling to attain its 1.83 million bpd previous quota.  The new quota was pegged at the country’s highest production level attained over the last six months.

Meanwhile, the global oil market trends on Tuesday showed that the decision of Saudi Arabia to lower production cuts and its decision to increase its official selling prices for Asia buyers, prompted Chinese crude oil refiners to seek cheaper alternatives from Nigeria, Russia, and Iran.

Analysts said that traders were unconvinced about the importance of any further cuts from OPEC+ as worry about the state of the global economy prevails.

Nigeria’s oil output averaged 998,602 bpd in April 2023, declining from the 1.2 million bpd produced in March.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, in a recent interview hinted that the country’s production will reach 1.8 million bpd by July 2023, and 2 million bpd by December 2023.

In what looks like a double jeopardy for Nigeria, the global crude oil prices have continued to decline below $75 /b for almost two months, which was the country’s crude oil price benchmark, while the new OPEC’ output quota is now also below the crude oil production benchmark pegged at 1.69 million bpd.

President Bola Tinubu has also promised to increase Nigeria’s oil production to 4 million bpd.  In a recent meeting with the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies last week, the President ordered the military to “crush” perpetrators of oil theft, saying his administration will not tolerate the menace.

He insisted that under his watch, insecurity would not bring Nigeria to her knees while other countries record achievements in key sectors of their economies.

The decision of the new Nigeria President to redouble the efforts of the security agencies, especially in the oil-producing communities has been described as one of the major signals needed to restore the country’s crude oil output.

It is therefore not clear if the new administration will agree to OPEC’s out cut when its security measure starts yielding positive results before the end of 2024.

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Energy

Marketers advocate ethanol as alternative fuel, plan $7bn yearly savings

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The Major Energies Marketers Association of Nigeria has stated that ethanol could be adopted as a biofuel to help Nigeria in reducing energy poverty and emissions.

According to MEMAN during a recent quarterly press webinar and engagement, about $7.4 billion could be saved annually by taking advantage of Nigeria’s ethanol resources as a biofuel to support petrol.

Ethanol is a biofuel that is commonly used as a substitute or additive to petrol in vehicles. It is typically produced through the fermentation of plant materials like cassava, corn, sugarcane, and others.

MEMAN noted that ethanol blended into biofuel as a transformative energy source has the potential to change Nigeria’s energy landscape and pave the way for a sustainable economy.

Experts, who spoke at the webinar, revealed that Nigeria had what it takes to exploit its ethanol to biofuel potential.

Presenting a paper titled ‘Ethanol as a Biofuel,’ a Senior Consultant with Africa Practice, Agwu Ojowu, pointed out that developing the ethanol industry could save the nation about $7.4bn ba year.

“Nigeria’s cassava production, standing at 63 million metric tonnes annually, represents 26 per cent of the global total. However, with 40 percent of this yield lost each year, there is a significant economic loss estimated at $7.4bn. Developing the ethanol industry could mitigate these losses, enhance economic stability, and capitalise on the depreciating currency to reduce costs,” Ojowu stated.

He emphasised that ethanol’s higher octane rating improves fuel quality and helps meet environmental standards by reducing sulphur content and greenhouse gas emissions.

Those attributes, he said, make ethanol a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to petrol, aligning with Nigeria’s climate commitments.

Going down memory lane, Ojowu recalled that Nigeria’s foray into ethanol began with the 2007 biofuels policy, which mandated a 10 percent ethanol blend in fuel.

“Despite initial challenges, including the suspension of the policy in 2008, because of blending inconsistencies, the potential of ethanol remains significant. Ethanol’s cost-effectiveness compared to petrol has historically led to economic arbitrage, suggesting that a well-regulated biofuel market could be economically advantageous,” he said.

Ojowu added that ethanol presents numerous benefits, including economic, environmental, and agricultural advantages, without necessitating vehicle modifications.

The Executive Secretary of MEMAN, Clement Isong, also emphasised the role of renewable energy in addressing Nigeria’s energy poverty.

He highlighted the importance of diverse energy sources, including biofuels, solar, hydroelectricity, and wind energy, to create a balanced and sustainable energy mix.

“MEMAN is committed to engaging with industry stakeholders to advocate for energy solutions that meet Nigeria’s needs,” Isong said.

He expressed optimism about the future of renewable energy in Nigeria and the continued efforts to enhance press engagement and industry collaboration.

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Abuja DisCo adds 45 new feeders to Band A

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The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, (AEDC) has disclosed it has added 45 new feeders to the Band A category of customers who would enjoy a minimum of 20 hours of electricity as stipulated by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The new feeders are majorly in the Asokoro, Wuye, Garki, Suleja, Apo and other areas of the capital city. This was disclosed by the Disco on their official X (formerly Twitter) page where it described the feeder location and specific areas served by the feeder.

Other areas where feeders were upgraded to band A include; Suleja, Garki Area II, Wuse, Anyigba, Mpape, Jabi, Gwagwalada, Gwarimpa etc.

The DisCo noted that the upgrade to band A for the affected feeder location is effective from June 1, 2024.  Similar upgrades across other DisCos

In April, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced a more than 200 percent increase in electricity tariffs for Band A customers.

This move is part of efforts to eliminate electricity subsidies and implement a cost-reflective tariff system in the power sector.

Abuja Disco’s addition of new feeders to Band A is in line with similar actions by other distribution companies like Eko and Ikeja DisCos following the tariff hike.

Band A customers are on specific feeders that receive a minimum of 20 hours of electricity daily. According to NERC, these customers account for approximately 17 percent of all electricity users in the country.

The decision to raise electricity tariffs for Band A customers has sparked public outrage, particularly among trade and labour unions nationwide.

Organised labour members have protested the increase, while the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has advised its members not to pay the new tariff, claiming they were not consulted.

MAN has instructed its members to continue paying the old rate of N66/kWh. The various electricity distribution companies have vowed to disconnect customers who fail to pay the new tariff under their band.

The group has also filed a petition with NERC regarding the tariff hike, which is currently awaiting resolution.

Furthermore, the Organised Private Sector (OPS) comprising all chambers of commerce and trade associations across the country had warned that the new tariff could lead to the shutdown of 65 percent of businesses across the country.  The group stated that the over 200 percent hike in electricity tariff to N220/KWh then made Nigeria’s power cost the highest in the world. It warned that the hike could exacerbate the economic situation in the country and push more people into unemployment and poverty.

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Settlement agreement: NNPC asks court to discontinue lawsuit against Mobil subsidiaries

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has filed a motion to discontinue its lawsuit against Mobil Nigeria subsidiaries and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The motion is aimed at finalizing a settlement agreement for the divestment of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited for $1.28 billion.

NNPC’s legal counsel, Afe Babalola & Co., presented the motion, requesting the court’s permission to withdraw the suit and strike it off the court’s cause list.

The motion cites legal precedents, including the Supreme Court decision in Adama v. Maigari (2019), which supports the relisting of a discontinued suit if the out-of-court settlement fails.

The lawsuit, originally filed by NNPC on July 5, 2022, was referred to arbitration on August 3, 2022.

Recent negotiations have led to an out-of-court settlement decision, with the Settlement Agreement requiring NNPC to withdraw the lawsuit.

The court is currently considering the motion, which, if granted, would pave the way for the parties to complete the settlement and divestment transaction.

No further details have been released, but sources indicate that the settlement agreement includes clauses designed to align the interests of all parties and finalize the transaction.

The development is seen as a significant step towards resolving the longstanding dispute between NNPC, the Mobil subsidiaries, and NUPRC.

Approval of the motion would allow the parties to focus on finalizing the settlement and completing the divestment transaction.

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