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Nigeria central bank urges bill passage

22 Jan 2013, 2.11 pm GMT

Nigeria central bank urges bill passage

Johannesburg, 22 January (Argus) —Nigeria's central bank has urged the government to pass the long-delayed petroleum industry bill aimed at reversing the decline in the country's oil and gas output.

The central bank "expressed concern" over a year-on-year reduction in production, and "enjoined the federal government to fast track the passage of the petroleum industry bill to halt the trend."

Nigeria produced 2.25mn b/d of crude last month, according to Argus estimates.

Production fell to 1.95mn b/d in October and November last year because of a combination of flooding, repeated pipeline ruptures and widespread theft. Production reached as high as 2.4mn b/d in 2011.

The bill was submitted to legislators in 2008 but has faced years of delays, deterring firms such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Total from investing in new Nigerian upstream capacity.

Nigeria has benefited from rising oil prices despite setbacks in production. The country's foreign exchange reserves were at $43.85bn at the end of last month, up a third from the $32.92bn at the end of December, 2011, the central bank said.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil and gas producer.

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