Nigerian links oil field peace, firms' social work
Wednesday May 7, 2008
HOUSTON, May 7 (Reuters) - A Nigerian official said Wednesday that oil field security in his country would improve if oil companies boosted their community development efforts.
"They need to do more," Emmanuel Egbogah told reporters after a panel discussion at the Offshore Technology Conference of industry challenges around the world.
Egbogah, special petroleum adviser to Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, said the government was doing its part.
The interview followed an exchange between Egbogah and fellow panel member Patrick Pouyanne of Total SA who expressed concern about the level of security in Nigeria. Nigerian oil production has been plagued by attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure by militants who complain that local communities are not benefiting enough from oil.
When Pouyanne, Total's senior vice president of exploration and production, questioned Nigerian security, Egbogah jumped in to suggest firms spend more to improve nearby communities.
"Maybe your investment needs to be higher to solve the security problem.
To say that this issue of security is completely the responsibility of the host government is not correct. I think everybody has a part to play," Egbogah said. "Some of the problems that created some of the security issues have been as a result of the non-performance of the international oil companies," Egbogah told reporters.
Members of the panel agreed that one of the challenges faced by oil companies is fulfilling social responsibilities in underdeveloped oil-producing countries.
Egbogah said the government of Nigeria was working hard to keep the peace and has had some success.
"We believe we are making progress, despite the fact that from time to time you hear about something that is breaking news," Egbogah said.
Production has recovered substantially since the worst interruptions, he said.
With the lifting this week of a force majeure on production by Exxon Mobil, Nigerian output has risen from less than 1.5 million barrels per day to 2 million or 2.2 million, he said.
"We'll not only hold that level, we'll improve upon that," he told reporters.
(Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Walter Bagley)
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