Niger Delta: Barkindo backs negotiation with militants

INCOMING Secretary General of the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Barkindo, a Nigerian, has observed that the carrot and stick approach adopted by the Federal Government was the best way to resolve the Niger Delta crisis.

Speaking to State House corespondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Thursday, he observed that the ongoing negotiations were already yielding results, as crude oil production had started to rise again.

Asked how the crisis could be resolved, he said “well, I don’t think it will be appropriate for me to comment on this issue because we have heard what the minister of state has said that negotiations are ongoing.

“For me, based on my own experience here, the option of carrot and stick as they call it, I think is the way forward.

“Government, I understand, is negotiating, discussing and we are beginning to see positive results. So I don’t think it will be proper to preempt this discussions that are being handled by Dr Kachukwu (Minister of State, Petroleum).

“But I remain confident that through this negotiations, stable and permanent solutions will be found to this problem because the Niger Delta region is a very important part of our country and whatever we can do to address the challenges of development, I think is the way forward.

“I have been told that production is beginning to rise again. So, for us in OPEC, this is the first thing we look at, how much is a member country is producing.

“When we saw that production was falling in Nigeria as a result of recent challenges, the international community, the market, also took note of that. But now, I think things are beginning to come back to nomalcy and I have seen some of your reports that are also very positive.”

Barkindo noted the challenges in the crude oil market, stressing the need for more cooperation among nations as well as structural reforms in the oil industry.

“We have seen the industry over the past years skyrocketing in prices not only of crude oil products and other derivatives but also in the cost of production which runs with prices. We have also seen the sharp correction from 2014 to couple of months ago when the prices hit the 20s.

“Now, this structural changes swept across the entire industry. Member countries of OPEC will have to remain united to confront these challenges,” he added.