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News Update (November 24, 2009 01:44 PM...)

Nigeriaís budget spending to jump as oil prices rise


Nigeriaís government plans to raise spending in Africaís most populated nation to 4.1 trillion naira ($27.3 billion) next year as revenue from the oil industry improves on increased production and prices.

Government spending will rise by 1 trillion naira from this year, presidential adviser Mohammed Abba-Aji told journalists Tuesday in the capita, Abuja. He didnít give figures for revenue or the deficit.

Nigeriaís parliament approved a budget of 3.1 trillion naira for this year in December 2008, with an estimated deficit of 3 percent of GDP. On Oct. 28, the International Monetary Fund forecast a fiscal shortfall of 9 percent of GDP this year, compared with a surplus of 4 percent in 2008.

The 2010 budget was based on an average oil price of $57 a barrel and an exchange rate of 150 naira to the dollar. Crude oil was trading at about $77 a barrel in New York today.

Rising oil prices and increased production are likely to boost economic growth next year. The economy expanded 7.2 percent in the second quarter, compared with 4.5 percent in the previous three months, and will grow about 7.6 percent in the third quarter, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi said on Nov. 3.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA produce most of the countryís oil in joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. The oil industry accounts for more than 90 percent of exports.

Oil Production

Crude prices plunged from a record $147 a barrel in July last year to about $40 per barrel in December as the worst economic crisis since the 1930s curbed demand for commodities from China, India, the U.S. and Europe. Nigeriaís expansion this year has been driven by non-oil industries as attacks by armed groups in the Niger Delta have cut more than 25 percent of the countryís oil output in the past three years.

Nigeria, formerly Africaís biggest producer, is pumping about 2.4 million barrels a day of crude oil and condensate, according to Rilwanu Lukman, the countryís Minister of Petroleum Resources. Production of about 1 million barrels a day still remains shut down following a spate of attacks on oil facilities earlier this year.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the countryís main rebel group, announced a cease-fire on Oct. 25 after President Umaru YaríAdua met the groupís leader, Henry Okah, and agreed to meet its negotiators.

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