By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) -Exxon Mobil Corp has pledged additional oil production of nearly 40,000 barrels per day in Nigeria in a new investment push in the country, a presidential spokesperson said on Tuesday, citing Exxon’s president of global upstream operations.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu held talks with Exxon’s Liam Mallon in New York on Monday, ahead of this week’s U.N. General Assembly, in a drive to attract global capital to Africa’s largest economy, presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale said in a statement.
Nigeria’s state oil firm NNPC Ltd. runs joint ventures and offshore production-sharing contracts with oil majors including Exxon that pump more than 80% of the country’s oil.
Exxon has “made significant progress” in Nigeria, the statement quoted Mallon as saying.
“We are growing our production, and we are working hard on expanding in the deepwater production,” he said.
An Exxon spokesperson confirmed talks with the Nigerian president but declined to give further details.
Nigeria’s oil and condensates output rose to 1.67 million barrels per day, from just under a million some months ago, due to security improvements in its oil-rich Niger River delta region.
But Africa’s largest oil producer is still grappling with challenges in its oil industry, including large-scale theft and sabotage, despite passing an historic oil bill into law two years ago to ease regulatory uncertainties and attract investments.
According to the statement, Tinubu pledged to solve outstanding issues and “crush” all bottlenecks slowing the flow of new and large-scale capital into Nigeria’s energy industry.
“The knotty issues require direct supervision on my part. Despite many contending obligations, I will sit down and oversee the process of removing these encumbrances,” Tinubu was quoted as saying.
“Nigeria has never been more ready for business than it is now,” he said.
(Reporting by Felix OnuahWriting by Elisha Bala-GbogboEditing by David Goodman and Mark Potter)