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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tunde Oyedoyin
TUMO6566@aol.com
London, UK


Nigeria is happy with OPEC - Lukman


f words mean anything, then there's every indication that Nigeria is not ready to withdraw her membership from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. Speaking exclusively with the Guardian during the just concluded Second Nigeria Investment Summit in London, the President of OPEC, Dr Rilwan Lukman, said he was happy with the Vienna based oil cartel and that the country was doing well in terms of price, but hopes to cut its production. Asked to comment on his leadership and the country's membership of the organisation, Lukman said 'Well, we're happy and doing very well."

Lukman who is also the Special Assistant to the President on petroleum affairs, spoke further about the U. S and their efforts at forging a closer relationship on Nigeria's oil. According to him:"they're only trying to diversify their supply of oil, we've been supplying them a substantial part of our oil, it's not new. I guess its because they're worried about what is happening in the Middle East, they're looking for diversification of their sources and we're just one of the potentially good sources. They're looking at increasing that quantity over a period of time and we're happy with that."

But why is the country's external reserves going down despite favourable oil prices? he replied,"You could be earning a lot, but if you're spending more than you're earning, that's a different issue. Actually, they-Nigerian government-are spending a lot of money to pay for debt servicing and for importation. And, if your import earnings are higher than your export, then you have to take from your reserves.

'It's not because the price is going up, we're trying to cut our production in order to support higher prices. Remember, when the government came in, the price was lower than $20 per barrel, now we're more than $26. So, we're doing well on price, but on quantity, we're reducing a little bit, but this is normal"