Nigeria Seeks Advantage in Drop in Oil Sales to U.S., Sambo Says

Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo said decreasing oil sales to the U.S. are an opportunity to create jobs by building refineries and developing markets closer to home.

Nigeria, an OPEC member, lacks refining capacity and depends on imported fuel to meet domestic demand. The country is set to lose its position as Africa’s biggest crude producer for the first time since 2009. Its shipments to the U.S. slid to 194,000 barrels a day in February, the lowest in more than 18 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“Part of our policy now, as a result of this, is that we’re attracting more foreign direct investment in processing the crude oil in Nigeria,” Sambo said told reporters in Yokohama, Japan. “That creates more jobs, and it creates wealth within the country.”

The U.S. is Nigeria’s biggest crude buyer, importing cargoes valued at 724 billion naira ($4.6 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics. U.S. imports from Nigeria rebounded in March to 376,000 barrels a day, according to EIA data published May 30.

Sambo is in Japan for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, the largest African development forum outside the continent.

Angola is poised to overtake Nigeria as the continent’s top producer of crude as oil thieves sabotage pipelines in the oil-rich Niger River delta. Nigeria pumped 1.87 million barrels a day in May, the same as Angola, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Both belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

International producers including Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA -- in joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. -- pump about 90 percent of the country’s output.

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