The meeting could not have achieved less. When President Muhammadu Buhari met with the leader of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz in Riyadh earlier this week, not a few people expected them to take a common stand on efforts to find solutions to  the challenges facing the global oil market. Both leaders entered into an agreement to support the global moves to stabilise the storm over the global oil industry. The agreement was reached after both leaders held bilateral talks during which  they held extensive discussions on regional and global concerns. Buhari and his host accepted the fact that their countries’ economies were tied to oil and that the wellbeing of both countries will be in jeopardy with the continued instability in the world oil market. In a speech presented by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu , “President Buhari and King Salman committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilise the market and rebound the oil price,” Shehu said but added that President Buhari did not make any commitment to a production freeze in the talk that was held in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Last week, top oil exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to freeze output levels in a bid to stem the free fall in oil prices in Doha but said the deal was contingent on other producers joining in. Saudi Arabia led the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ decision in November 2014 to keep heavily pumping oil even though mounting oversupply was already sending prices into a free-fall. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies in the oil cartel had resisted the  pressure to cut production, leading to a supply glut that has seen prices fall by 70 per cent since mid-2014. Analysts say that it is expected that Nigeria would give her support to the freeze agreed in Doha. “In the longer term, there is no reason why the country (Nigeria) won’t align itself with the position of Saudi Arabia and Russia,” Abhishek Deshpande, lead oil market analyst at Natixis in London said, adding that Nigeria could have a crucial role in the new agreement owing to the fact that Iran and Iraq are holding to the position that they should elevate their production before envisaging freezes. Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are expected to also discuss their position towards Iran and Iraq. Iran is just returning to the world market after sanctions were lifted under its nuclear deal. That, it is feared would boost production in the market. “Some neighbouring countries have increased their production over the years to 10 million barrels per day and export this amount, then they say let’s all freeze our oil production,” Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Zanganeh said in the wake of the new agreement between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, adding that , “They freeze production at 10 million bpd and we freeze at one million bpd. This is a very funny joke.”

Folashade Olubayo
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