After months of stalling because of Covid restrictions and Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cuts, as well as significant international criticism over misplaced funds, Nigeria appears to be optimistic about the future of its faltering oil industry in a time when few others are.
The Nigerian government announced weekend that it expects the country to produce 1.88 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2022, assuming a benchmark price of $57 per barrel. In the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), just approved by the senate, the government also predicted GDP growth of 4.2 percent and inflation of 13 percent in 2022. Inflation in Nigeria decreased to 17.01 percent in August, in a country that has continued to struggle with a double-digit inflation rate since 2016.
This is a highly optimistic plan seeing as Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, was hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, from which it is still recovering. The Nigerian economy contracted 1.92 percent in 2020, after a growth of 2.92 percent in 2019. However, the contraction was lower than the World bank estimate of a 4 percent contraction or the IMF estimate of 3.2 percent.
The hopeful budget approval follows President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law in August. This comes after two long decades of delays in approving the PIB, at a time when much of the rest of the world is moving away from fossil fuel strategies towards green policies with a focus on renewable energy. Plans to stop the sale of diesel and petroleum vehicles as well as targets for net zero-carbon emissions by 2050, across Europe and North America, make the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) appear somewhat outdated. However, advocates for the Bill believe that the African continent will continue to rely on oil production for fuel well into the next decade.
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The President stated in August at the inauguration of the Steering Committee and PIA Implementation Group that Nigeria may have lost as much as $50 billion worth of investment because of years of delays in enacting the PIA, as investors were uncertain of Nigeria’s oil and gas outlook.