The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday disclosed that India had displaced Nigeria's longest and largest crude oil importer, the United States of America (USA) from its status as the top importer of Nigeria's crude.
The NNPC also stated that China and Malaysia are closely next in the rank of top export destinations of Nigeria's crude oil.
The corporation stated in a statement signed by its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Ohi Alegbe, in Abuja that the United States which had traditionally taken the bulk of Nigeria's crude oil but had in recent months drastically reduced its demand now takes just about 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the country's crude oil.
It, however, explained that India now purchases some 30 per cent of Nigeria's daily crude production which currently hovers around 2.5 million barrels per day (mbpd); when calculated, this amounts to 750,000bpd of crude oil purchased by India.
Alegbe quoted the Coordinator, Corporate Planning and Strategy of NNPC, Dr. Tim Okon, to have said at the ongoing 21st World Petroleum Congress in Moscow, Russia that the Asian countries had since replaced the United States in this regard.
Okon however explained that irrespective of the development, Nigeria would not ignore any market in its quest to remain competitive in the global oil and gas industry.
Just recently, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was incidentally represented at an official function by Okon, had disclosed that Nigeria no longer holds any tangible trade in crude oil with the United States of America, following the shale oil boom in the United States.
The minister explained at an interactive forum on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is awaiting passage at the National Assembly that such development should as a matter of fact spur Nigerians to impress it on the legislators to pass the PIB as soon as possible.
She added that the delay in the passage of the PIB has not only impeded growth of Nigeria's oil and gas sector but kept key decisions for the sector from been made.
Okon however said in Moscow that: "Asia is important and in that respect we have regards for all markets; the important thing is to make sure that you are selling the products that you have and you do not ignore any market."
He equally noted that Nigeria's participation in the congress was to access global business opportunities in the petroleum industry especially in the gas sub-sector as it seeks to position herself as a major competitor in the global hydrocarbon market. Okon noted that as a natural resource rich country, Nigeria is working hard to do a better job in developing such resources and translating them to the wider economy.
He stressed that the country does not have preferential markets for its products and that PIB needs to be passed into law to enable the country to maximise its potentials in the oil and gas industry.
"I cannot talk about future incentives if the principal law that would give birth to it has not been passed but I want to say that the general intention is that Nigeria must compete in the market place and our fiscal systems are designed to be competitive that would lead to good outcomes for the country.
It is always helpful to do things in a timely manner and that is an important point to stress. Many of the countries that were trying to get new legislations passed like Ghana, Brazil, Mozambique and even Uganda have passed their legislation. So, I think timeliness is of the essence," Okon stated.
The World Petroleum Congress is often regarded as the biggest congregation of oil and gas experts on the global stage; it consists of exhibitions and break-out conference.
The NNPC noted that Nigeria's participation at the global oil sector gathering was anchored on the theme "Harnessing Nigeria's Gas Resources for Sustainable National and Regional Development."