Posted by By Hector Igbikiuwubo, Vienna, Jide Ajani & Sam Oyadongha with agency reports on
ONE of the four foreign oil workers released on Monday by their abductors in the Niger Delta said yesterday that it was unlikely he would return to work in Nigeria.
LAGOS—ONE of the four foreign oil workers released on Monday by their abductors in the Niger Delta said yesterday that it was unlikely he would return to work in Nigeria. Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum and OPEC President, Dr. Edmund Daukoru denied yesterday in Vienna that incidents in the Niger Delta triggered increases in fuel prices.
Milko Nichev, a Bulgarian, rejoined his family in Dobrich, north-east of the country yesterday and spoke on his ordeal. His fellow hostages, an American, a Briton and a Honduran have also departed Nigeria for their home countries.
Nichev speaking in the capital Sofia said: “We were not too badly treated, but our lives were in danger. The first few days we were often moved. After that, we were held in a camp on an island or a peninsula.”
The Bulgarian said he was unlikely to return to work in Nigeria. “I don’t think I will go back,” he said.
Fresh information, yesterday, on the release of the hostages indicated that they were actually dropped off at a border village between Bayelsa State and Delta State.
A deal was also struck with the militants on the mode of release of the hostages. It was gathered that the release was the result of a plea bargain struck between elders of the Ijaw nation and the hostages.
Part of the deal was that Ijaw elders, after making contact with the hostage takers, were made to understand that the hostages would not be personally handed over to the elders.
Vanguard was also told that the militants insisted on not personally having contact with officials of government to whom the hostages would be handed.
In fact, the two main conditions for the release of the hostages, according to a top government official who briefed Vanguard, were that the hostages would simply be dropped off at a border point between Bayelsa and Delta States without any physical contact and that Ijaw elders should forward their message of an urgent demand for a policy change towards the people of the South-South.
Also shedding light on how the hostages were released, Bayelsa State governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan yesterday in Yenagoa said:. “We all know the hostages were released Monday between 5am and 5.15 am to the Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Dr. Boladei Igali because the people who were negotiating with them asked us to go to Sagbama by that time.
“And exactly between 5am and 5.15am they (abductors) came in two speed boats. All of them stayed in the middle of the river. One of them came close to the shore and the people were asked to jump out of the boat and immediately they sped off in the water. But we are happy the people were finally released,” an elated Jonathan said and commended the federal government for its patience and not applying military force in securing the hostages' release.
The Ijaw elders, according to information available to Vanguard, were prevailed upon by some governors of the South-South states to intercede on behalf of states and the Federal Governments of Nigeria.
Vanguard learnt that apart from the efforts of the governments of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, generally, a few prominent sons and daughters of the South-South were also asked by President Obasanjo to get involved in the negotiations.
OPEC output remains 28mb/d
The 139th extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting in Vienna, Austria, yesterday, resolved to maintain crude oil production at 28 million barrels per day till the second quarter of the year.
Nigeria also served notice that it expected to ramp up crude oil production by an additional 600,000 barrels per day by the middle of the year, bringing its total output to over three million barrels per day, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and OPEC President told journalists at the end of the cartels’s ministerial council meeting in the city of Vienna.
Besides, the ministerial council called on the Secretariat to continue exercising vigilance in monitoring the market in view of the potential risks and uncertainties identified.
The ministerial council said OPEC was committed to maintain its role in a supply level that would be conducive to economic growth and expressed its concern about the high degree of price volatility as well as the impact it might have on the global economy.
Further more, the conference observed that forecast for supply and demand in recent years had tended to underestimate the requirement for OPEC oil, especially in the second quarter.
Dr. Daukoru addressing some questions said ramp up from Bonga had been faster than anticipated and that the Erha field development was on schedule for first oil before the middle of the year. He also said the country was aiming at four million barrels per day before the close of the decade.
On the issue of spare capacity, he recalled that two million barrels had been made available to the market before the close of last year and that this was not taken up. “OPEC is already able to produce two million barrels than we are already doing. It may not be the right quality for the right refinery and the right place. But we can produce two million barrels immediately if needed,” he said.
He said current crude oil prices were largely driven by downstream bottlenecks and not upstream constraints. Like other OPEC member countries, he said Nigeria was currently crying for investors who would come and invest in refineries and that government had now turned to the joint venture operators who were getting themselves together as a consortium. “Unfortunately, the margins are not consistent enough to encourage sustained interest in the downstream,” he said.
The minister said it was not true that incidents in the Niger Delta contributed to triggering oil prices. “It is not because oil prices are triggered by incidents in the Niger Delta. I see oil price movement as a long time issue to be addressed in a fundamental way. The Niger Delta development intervention will continue as part of a long term solution and not simply a reaction to daily ups and downs of the market place.
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