(Adds further details, background)
By Camillus Eboh
ABUJA, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Nigeria is currently producing 1.774 million barrels of crude oil per day, its oil minister Timipre Sylva said on Thursday, above an estimate given by state oil firm NNPC in November of 1.6 million-1.7 million bpd.
An NNPC official said in November that the country would continue to comply with OPEC output cuts. The group of more than 20 producers agreed last month to increase their targeted output cut to 1.7 million bpd.
Last month Sylva told Saudi Energy Minister bin Salman that Nigeria’s compliance with OPEC cuts had improved substantially since August.
Nigeria had OPEC’s largest production drop in December, of 80,000 bpd, and also exported less crude, based on ship-tracking data and loading schedules.
“Today Nigeria is producing according to OPEC 1.774 million bpd,” Sylva told a media briefing in Abuja.
Sylva said he was working to get a long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed within the second quarter, after which Nigeria would conduct a bid round for major oil blocks.
Nigeria has not had a licensing round in more than a decade owing to a lack of clarity regarding fiscal terms for oil exploration.
The PIB, a key piece of legislation which has been nearly two decades in the making, aims to increase transparency, change the fiscal regime for oil producers and stimulate growth in the country’s oil industry.
Under the last parliament in 2018, the bill was broken up into two parts to help to get it past lawmakers, but the president refused to sign it into law. This time, Sylva said the bill will be passed as one.
He said the government will conduct bid rounds for marginal fields this year with or without the passing of the oil bill. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by David Evans and Jan Harvey)