Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nigeria will boost crude oil output if OPEC asks


By Joe Brock

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria would increase its crude oil production if producer group OPEC requested higher output to cool soaring oil prices, state oil company NNPC said on Tuesday.

Oil prices last month rose to their highest point in more than two years as a brewing civil war in Libya cut out as much as two-thirds of the North African country's oil output, or 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

Nigeria's light, sweet crude oil is similar to the type of oil produced by Libya and would be a good replacement for European refiners, who are lacking adequate supplies because of the North African crisis.

"We will do whatever OPEC asks its members to do. Whatever is needed under OPEC directives," NNPC spokesman Levi Ajuonoma said. He said Nigeria had the spare capacity to increase its production if needed but did not state by how much.

Nigeria's oil ministry said last month its combined crude oil and condensate output was around 2.4 million bpd but it had production capacity of around 3 million bpd.

Kuwait's oil minister said on Tuesday OPEC was in talks to boost production for the first time in more than two years after the recent surge in oil prices on supply worries stemming from unrest in the Middle East.

Brent crude for April edged below $115 a barrel on Tuesday on expectations of a reduction in OPEC production. That's down about $6 from a February 24 peak of $119.79, the highest price since 2008, when it reached a record $147.50.

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