Home News Nigerian crude sells at premium but weak output, high cost hurt economy

Nigerian crude sells at premium but weak output, high cost hurt economy

by Harry Choms
Crude oil price

Nigerian crude oil prices surged in the latest trading session amidst speculation of a potential direct attack on Iran by Israel over the weekend, escalating tensions in the Middle East. This surge, the most significant since the Israel-Hamas conflict in October, saw Nigeria’s Brass River and Qua Iboe crude trading close to $93.89 per barrel, with Brent Crude settling at $90.45 per barrel. However, despite the price hike, Nigeria’s economic gains remain subdued due to low production levels and soaring operational costs.

Most of Nigeria’s government revenue and foreign exchange earnings, about two-thirds and 90% respectively, are derived from oil production. While the current price surge has added around $15.93 per barrel, based on the $93.89 per barrel rate, Nigeria’s economic outlook is marred by its failure to meet production targets and high costs. The country’s 2024 budget, calculated at $77.96 per barrel, faces challenges due to production falling significantly below the benchmark of 1.78 million barrels per day. Furthermore, Nigeria Bonny Light traded at $93.54 per barrel on Friday, indicating sustained economic pressure.

Oil production in Nigeria has declined for the second time this year, dropping from 1.32 million barrels per day in February to 1.23 million barrels per day in March, according to recent data from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). March figures also reveal that Libya marginally surpassed Nigeria’s production, while Saudi Arabia maintained its position as OPEC’s largest oil producer with an average daily production of 8.97 million barrels.

With over 50% of Nigeria’s planned crude oil shipments for May remaining uncleared, unsold crude accumulates in the market. Approximately 30 of Nigeria’s cargoes are still seeking buyers, indicating a challenging market ahead. Despite this, around 53 cargoes are expected to be loaded and depart Nigeria next month, each comprising one million barrels, a substantial volume.

The demand for Nigerian oil has dwindled due to extensive European refinery maintenance, resulting in surplus barrels stored from April to May. Meanwhile, Angola is capitalizing on opportunities in the Indian energy market, posing further competition for Nigeria.

President Tinubu’s administration has implemented significant reforms, including eliminating costly gasoline subsidies and currency depreciation, to revive the economy. However, rising inflation and social unrest have led to discreet adjustments by the government. Nigeria’s sole gasoline importer, NNPC Ltd., now relies on government subsidies to maintain pump prices, highlighting financial strains.

Moreover, delays in subsidy payments for November and December have hindered petroleum imports, affecting goods importation. NNPC Trade Ltd, a subsidiary, faces challenges meeting national demand due to cash flow constraints from delayed payments to international traders.

Nigeria’s high operational costs for oil production pose a significant challenge compared to other oil-producing nations. Despite this, the commencement of operations at the Dangote oil refinery represents progress towards energy self-sufficiency, albeit with ongoing hurdles.

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