BBC Monitoring Service: Nigeria, US sign security deal in oil rich region: “Shell, Chevron and Total are the companies that suffered the production losses following the forced closure of their facilities in the region”. Saturday December 10, 2005
Text of report by Nigerian newspaper This Day website on 9 December
As part of efforts to address the security crises in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and the United States announced yesterday the establishment of a joint committee that would be charged with the task of coordinating a comprehensive action against insecurity in the oil-rich region.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) also said yesterday that Nigeria is currently losing 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) to production deferment due to the lingering crises and sporadic clashes in the area. In monetary terms, this translates to a daily loss of 12m US dollar (N1.6 billion).
In the communique on the bilateral pact released in Abuja yesterday, Nigeria and the US agreed to establish four special committees to coordinate action against trafficking in small arms in the Niger Delta, bolster maritime and coastal security in the region, promote community development and poverty reduction, and combat money laundering and other financial crimes.
Presenting details of the agreement, the US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, said that the agreement was the result of discussions between the two governments held last month in Washington DC, where Nigeria had sought US help to ensure stability in the Niger Delta.
Campbell said that the Nigerian delegation outlined a comprehensive and insightful analysis of social, economic and security issues in the Niger Delta. "In response, the US representatives agreed to ongoing engagement with Nigeria in the areas of security cooperation, international financial crimes collaboration, agricultural enterprise development, job and business development, conflict mitigation and management, and HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and education for the Niger Delta region," he said.
"Memorialised in a written communique signed by the US and Nigeria, the communique documents America's commitment to a full partnership with the Nigerian government in the pursuit of peace and prosperity in the Niger Delta," he added.
He stated further that under the agreement, the US will partner the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Office of the Accountant General and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to boost Nigeria's capacity to combat financial crimes.
"America is considering how best to respond to a request for assistance from the Nigerian national committee on small arms and light weapons, and will identify areas of technical support and capacity building," Campbell said.
Although he declined to give specific actions that the committees would take to tackle the identified problems especially in the area of financial crime and money laundering, the US envoy said that the committee charged with this task "is to go look for practical and concrete ways within the context of Nigerian and American war against financial crimes."
Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer is the fourth largest crude supplier to the US. Nigeria, with substantial influence in the Gulf of Guinea, is also seen as a key source of energy supply to the US, especially with the current instability in the Middle East.
But the Niger Delta where most of the country's daily production of 2.5 million barrels of oil comes from, is also riddled with crises in recent times, following sporadic clashes by communities demanding more resources from the oil.
The US, according to Campbell, agreed to cooperate in instilling stability in the Niger Delta, because "the relationships between Nigeria and US are far broader and far deeper." "Nigeria like US, is on the path of democracy that means important shared values those important shared values translate into cooperation and coordination on a host of issues, ranging from how to fight HIV/AIDS scourge to how best to promote stability and security throughout Africa," he said.
The group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Funsho Kupolokun, who has been designated presidential envoy on gulf of Guinea energy security, said yesterday that some 200,000 bpd of crude is lost to production deferment due to the crises in the Niger Delta.
Shell, Chevron and Total are the companies that suffered the production losses following the forced closure of their facilities in the region. The volume of the production losses was, however, lower than the 400,000 bpd suffered in 2003, said Kupolokun and attributed this decline to the Federal Government's efforts to check violence in the area, clamping down on crime as well as promoting economic development.
According to him, due to a number of intervention efforts introduced by the government to reduce observed challenges in the Niger Delta, the volume of crude oil lost to illegal bunkering activities also dropped to less than 30,000 bpd now from 100,000 bpd two years ago while the incidents of oil spill caused by pipeline vandalisation declined to less than 100 from 340 in 2000.
Ensuring security in the Niger Delta, according to Kupolokun, was crucial to the achievement of the federal government's aspiration of 40 billion barrels oil reserve and 4.5 million bpd production capacity in 2010.
He listed the government's efforts to address the Niger Delta problems to include implementation of the 13 per cent derivation, establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), government's acceptance of Extractive Industry Transparent Initiative (EITI), establishment of the Federal Ministry of Environment and efforts of the EFCC to stamp out economic crimes.
"The federal government, the oil companies and indeed all stakeholders are doing their best to address identified challenges in the Niger Delta. Patience, cooperation and consultation are the key ingredients to ensuring sustainable social and economic development of the region," Kupolokun said.
He stated that a number of countries were collaborating with Nigeria to ensure security of energy supply in the Gulf of Guinea.
"One of such countries is the United States of America, which is collaborating with the (Nigerian) government in addressing some of the challenges," he said.
Source: This Day website, Lagos, in English 9 Dec 05
/BBC Monitoring/ © BBC.
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