By NBF News

THE Federal Government said on Thursday that the cessation of hostilities and militancy in the Niger Delta region had improved the level of crude oil production in the country.

The Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah, explained that crude oil production level had increased from one million barrels per day to 2.6 million barrels.

The country had been unable to achieve its full production capacity in the past as a result of the activities of militants, who blew up installations and halted crude oil production.

Egbogah, who described the increase as a significant improvement, pointed out that government was targeting the production of four million barrels of crude oil per day.

The Presidential aide, who spoke at the 3rd Emmanuel Egbogah Legacy Lecture Series on Petroleum Economics, Policy and Strategy, held at the University of Port Harcourt, expressed optimism that the country would soon hit the four million-barrel target.

Egbogalu said, 'The cessation of hostilities and militancy in the Niger Delta region has brought about an increase in the country's oil production level.

'Since then, oil production has gone up quite significantly from around one million barrels per day to the current 2.6 million barrels per day. That is a significant improvement and the evidence is incontrovertible.'

He said that the Federal Government was working out modalities to ensure that the country's oil reserve hit 40 billion barrels per day.

According to him, the country is already close to achieving the feat with the oil reserve currently above 38 billion barrels per day.

Speaking on the Petroleum Industry Bill that is still pending at the National the Assembly, Egbogah expressed hope that lawmakers would pass the bill into law by the time they resumed from their recess.

He said that oil bearing communities would gain a lot from the bill by the time it was approved by the National Assembly, saying, 'What the communities are going to get as dictated by the Petroleum Industry Bill will be proper participation and sharing in the assets of petroleum operations in Nigeria.'

On whether Shell Petroleum Development Company would continue oil exploration in Ogoniland, Egbogah described the firm as the country's partner in oil production.

He, however, said that oil exploration and production would continue in Ogoniland after the clean-up exercise and re-planning of oil operations in the area.