The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said as part of efforts to end insurgency in the Niger Delta, President Muhammadu Buhari will meet with some stakeholders from the region on Tuesday next week.
The meeting, he stated, would hold inside the Presidential Villa.
Kachikwu said this in his welcome address at the public presentation of a roadmap for the development of the nation’s oil and gas industry at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
He explained that the stakeholders that would attend the meeting would include traditional rulers from the region, security chiefs as well as ministers who were indigenes of the region.
The minister added, “On Tuesday, the President will be meeting with the Niger Delta stakeholders of the oil-producing areas. It is important that we continue to sustain the institutional engagement and negotiations that are key to do this work.
“Our target is to have an incident reduction by 90 per cent by 2018 and to target zero militancy and shutdown by middle of 2017.
“Whatever shutdown experienced by the middle of next year, we expect it to be production slippages and not militancy issues. We must resolve current militancy problems and bring back production to 2.2 million barrels per day. We are currently at 1.8 million.
“We will like to begin the year once Exxon Mobil brings back its production this week with 2.2 million barrels per day. But the reality is that 2.2 million barrels does not represent the capacity of this nation.
“We have the capacity to increase to three million barrels per day, the problem has been funding. We are working with the oil sector players to find solutions to our cash call problems.”
Also at the ceremony, Buhari admitted that oil and gas resources remained the most practical key out of the nation’s economic crisis.
He said although the era of high oil prices might not be here now, the petroleum industry remained critical to the nation’s economy now and in the future.
Tagged the 7Big Wins, the roadmap is the short and medium term priorities to grow Nigeria’s oil and gas industry from 2015 to 2019.
The big wins include policy and regulation, business environment and investment drive, gas revolution, refineries and local production capacity, Niger Delta and security, transparency and efficiency as well as stakeholders’ management and international coordination.
Buhari, who is the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources, stated, “Oil and gas still remain a critical enabler for the successful implementation of our budget, as well as the source of funds for laying a strong foundation for a new and more diversified economy.
“As important as it is to ensure that agriculture, solid minerals and other critical sectors of the economy are supported to grow and contribute more to the nation’s economy, we still need a virile and efficient oil and gas industry to take care of our foreign exchange requirements.
“This is a national imperative and a core thrust of our economic policy.”
Buhari said it was therefore imperative for the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to maximise the potential and opportunities across the whole range of the oil and gas industry to stimulate the economy in spite of the current challenges.