Nigeria, South Africa Sign MOU to Boost Trade in Oil, Gas Sector

Nigeria and South Africa have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting the volume of oil and gas trade between the two countries, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Nigeria's oil minister, said Wednesday.

In a statement issued Wednesday by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., or NNPC, in Abuja, Ms. Alison-Madueke was quoted as saying on the sidelines of the Nigeria and South Africa Business Forum in Cape Town that the MOU would also "reinforce and strengthen the existing symbiotic relationship between the two largest economics in Africa."

Ms. Alison-Madueke is on the delegation of President Goodluck Jonathan who began a state visit to South Africa on Monday.

Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, has in the last six years unsuccessfully tried to pass in its National Assembly a bill meant to transform its inefficient and corruption-ridden oil and gas sector.

Oil thefts and pipeline vandalism are rising in the nation's oil-producing Niger Delta region while the uncertainty created in Nigeria's oil and gas sector due to the bill's failure to pass has compelled international oil companies to hold back further investments in the sector.

Ms. Alison-Madueke said the MOU on the oil and gas sector "is to basically help in the transfer of knowledge, skills, capabilities and technology."

She said when passed into law, oil bill would help to open the entire spectrum of the Nigerian oil industry to investors from all over the globe.

The bill is currently being debated in the National Assembly in Abuja where there is a sharp division among legislators from the southern and northern parts of the country on the provisions of bill and it is not clear when it will be passed into law.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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