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Nigeria has moved from the oil production leadership in Africa

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Nigeria has been the largest oil producer in Africa for many years; however, in recent years it has been displaced by Angola, which surpasses it in crude production due to the drop in Nigeria's production.

In 2020, Angola ended a civil war, causing its crude oil production to grow rapidly, potentially surpassing its neighboring country since 2008. Since then, the oil production of both countries has been very close.

In 2016, Nigeria began experiencing a decline in its production due to militant attacks on its export infrastructure, and in 2022, it had to close the Trans Niger facility and the Forcados export terminal for repairs.

This led to a drop in oil production from 1.1 million barrels per day (b/d) in the second quarter to less than 1 million b/d in the third quarter. According to data collected by the EIA, crude oil production in Nigeria fell just over 1 million b/d in April of this year, falling below Angola's output, which was estimated at 1.1 million b/d that month.

Nigeria wants to regain its leadership in oil production

On August 16, 2021, the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Act was introduced, which aims to attract the interest of upstream investors. This law made changes to the Nigerian hydrocarbons legal framework, including the creation of two separate industry regulators:

The Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

It also involved the restructuring of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (the national oil company), reducing the tax and royalty structure for crude oil production, and modifying the terms and conditions for the granting of licenses and upstream leasing, as published by the EIA.

Photo for illustrative purposes about Nigeria and its crude oil production
Oil products tanker from Nigeria

Nigeria's oil production is significant and holds a crucial position in Africa for several reasons:

Abundant Oil Reserves: Nigeria possesses substantial oil reserves, making it one of the largest oil producers in Africa. These reserves are mainly found in the Niger Delta region, both onshore and offshore.

Major Exporter: Nigeria is a major exporter of oil, consistently ranking as one of the top oil-exporting countries in Africa. Its crude oil exports play a crucial role in the country's economy, contributing a substantial portion of government revenue and foreign exchange earnings.

Economic Impact: Nigeria's oil sector has a significant impact on the country's economy. Oil exports account for a substantial portion of the country's GDP, representing around 90% of its total export earnings. This heavy reliance on oil revenue makes Nigeria vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil prices and exposes the economy to oil price shocks.

Regional Influence: Nigeria's oil production has regional implications. As the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria's production levels impact oil prices within the region. Changes in Nigerian oil output can affect the overall supply and demand dynamics in the African oil market. Additionally, Nigeria plays an influential role within OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) as one of its member countries.

Investment and Infrastructure: Nigeria has made significant investments in oil exploration, production, and infrastructure. The country has established a well-developed oil industry, including drilling operations, refineries, and pipeline networks, to support its production and export capabilities. These investments have contributed to Nigeria's ability to maintain a substantial level of oil production.

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