Tuesday, April 10, 2012

'Nigeria Can't Fill Gap Left by Cut in Iran Exports'

‘Nigeria can’t fill gap left by cut in Iran exports’

Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:29PM GMT

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says the country cannot boost its oil output to fill the supply gap caused by Iran’s decision to cut oil sales to some EU states.

NNPC spokesman, Levi Ajuonuma, said on Tuesday that the country’s petroleum sector was grappling with a number of serious problems, AFP reported.

“Theft and a lack of new investments remain huge problems…So we are not going to be able to…fill up such gaps,” he said, referring to any sudden cuts in output from Iran.

Nigeria has been producing between 2.0 and 2.4 million barrels of oil per day and is apparently incapable of managing any significant production boost for now.

Meanwhile, the US and its allies have pinned their hopes on Saudi Arabia to boost its crude output to fill the supply gap, but there are rising concerns in the West about the monarchy’s capability to do so as it faces a popular uprising in its oil-rich Eastern Province.

The EU foreign ministers met in Brussels, Belgium on January 23 to approve new unilateral sanctions against Iran aimed at preventing member countries from importing Iranian crude or doing business with the Islamic Republic’s Central Bank.

Following the session, EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, told reporters that the measure was meant to make Iran get back to its nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group, comprised of the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany.

Subsequent to the EU measure, Iran announced on February 15 that it had decided to cut oil exports to six European countries, namely the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Portugal.

On February 19, Iran’s Oil Ministry announced it had cut oil exports to British and French firms in line with the decision to end crude exports to the six European states.

Iran's decision to impose countersanctions on the European countries has led to a hike in global oil prices, pushing gasoline prices in the US and the UK to record highs. The rising gasoline prices have become a major issue in the US presidential election campaign.

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