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OIL DEMAND, PRICES TO DROP OVER TIME - ALISON-MADUEKE

By NBF News
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By Omoh Gabriel with agency report
LAGOS - Nigerian energy minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, said, yesterday, in Doha, Qatar that the global oil market was not currently over supplied, adding, however, that she expected oil prices and demand to drop over a period of time.

Fears over weaker oil demand have been fuelled by the deepening euro zone crisis, which could trigger a global economic slowdown.

Speaking to international media she said: 'Prices will inevitably drop over a period of time, how far is the issue,' at an energy industry event in Qatar.

'Prices drop because demand drops at the end of the day.'

Asked if she thought the market was oversupplied, she said, 'Not at the moment.'

She also said the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) event in Qatar that oil supplies and prices are expected to remain stable stating that supply from Nigeria would increase as its security improved and that Nigeria was currently producing 2.4 million barrels per day of oil. Fears over weaker oil demand have been fueled by the deepening euro zone crisis, which could trigger a global economic slowdown. She declined to make predictions about outcome of the upcoming OPEC meeting in December.

Meanwhile Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region has agreed with the central government to boost the region's crude oil exports to 175,000 barrels per day next year, Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Salih said yesterday. Exports from the region, which were restarted in February following a long halt due to a dispute with Baghdad, had reached as high as 160,000 bpd in recent months.

Salih met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad recently to discuss oil disputes between the central government and the semi-autonomous northern region. Iraqi officials said the two had agreed during the meeting to work on amendments to a controversial oil law.

'During our recent visit to Baghdad we also agreed that for next year the level of exports should increase to 175,000 barrels per day,' Salih said during a speech at an oil and gas conference in the Kurdish capital, Arbil. Baghdad and Arbil have longstanding disputes over oil and land. The Kurdistan Regional Government has signed a series of oilfield development deals with foreign companies that the central government considers illegal.

The disputes halted Kurdish exports in late 2009. They resumed in February. Helge Eide, the chief executive of Norwegian group DNO said he expects to increase crude output capacity at the Kurdish Tawke oilfield to 100,000 bpd in 2012 from about 70,000 bpd now. Actual production at the field is 50,000 bpd. Iraq exported a total of 2.088 million bpd in October, most of it from southern fields. Exports from the northern fields around Kirkuk were about 460,000 bpd.

Iraqi Kurdistan has enjoyed more security compared with the rest of Iraq, which is still struggling with stubborn violence from insurgents and militias more than eight years after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.