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NNPCL CEO resists Senate’s push to raise crude oil production benchmark

Mele Kyari Defends Government-Approved Figures Despite Senate Committee's Recommendation

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In a tense budget defense session, Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), firmly rejected the Senate Committee on Appropriation’s proposal to elevate the crude oil production benchmark in the 2024 Appropriation Bill. The committee, led by Chairman Solomon Adeola, suggested an increase from 1.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) to 1.8 mb/d.

Kyari, unwavering in his stance, asserted that the NNPCL would adhere to the production benchmark set by President Bola Tinubu in the Appropriation Bill. The Federal Government’s proposed figures included an average crude oil production benchmark of 1.78 mb/d and a crude oil price benchmark of $77.96.

Addressing the committee, Kyari emphasized that the oil giant’s benchmarks were grounded in the dynamic realities of the global oil market. He cautioned against deviating from President Tinubu’s submission, stating, “There is no way we will get crude oil for less than $70.”

Despite acknowledging potential challenges, particularly security issues in the Niger Delta region, Kyari expressed confidence in the government’s estimates. He highlighted the alarming prevalence of illegal crude oil bunkering, with over 4,800 illegal connections on pipelines, raising concerns about the security and integrity of the nation’s oil infrastructure.

Responding to queries from lawmakers, Kyari provided updates on the turnaround maintenance of the country’s refineries, assuring that the Port Harcourt refineries would be operational by December, with the Warri refinery following suit in the first quarter of 2024. The Kaduna Refinery, he stated, was projected to commence production by December 2024.

Senator Adeola, impressed by Kyari’s presentation, acknowledged that the CEO had reinforced the committee’s confidence in the feasibility of the assumptions and projections outlined in the 2024 budgetary proposals. The session underscored the intricate balance between economic considerations and the challenges posed by security issues in the oil-producing regions.

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