September 11, 2008

EU gives terms for intervention in Nigeria energy crisis

Thursday, September 11, 2008

EU gives terms for intervention in Nigeria energy crisis
From Emeka Anuforo, Abuja

THE European Union (EU) yesterday gave conditions that must be met if Nigeria is to enjoy intervention in the energy sector from its member countries.

Among such conditions, according to the European Commissioner for Energy, Mr. Andris Piebalgs, is the establishment of a strong legal framework to protect reforms and investments in the sector.

Piebalgs, who is in Nigeria with his team to hold talks with government authorities and other stakeholders in connection with the Africa-EU Energy partnership, stressed that Nigeria is an important country for the European Union, especially since all the member countries are present in Nigeria.

During a chat with some newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, Piebalgs noted that Nigeria has a 580 Million Euros financing window under the European Development Fund (EDF). This, according to him, does not include country support from member states. He also canvassed Nigeria's support for the EU-Africa Energy Partnership programme.

However, Piebalgs noted that though Nigeria is aware of the enormous funding potentials from the EU, the country has never placed energy as a priority area for assistance in its bilateral relationship with EU.

He said: "Nigeria has never asked us for assistance in the area of energy. Rather, it had placed sanitation and institutional support, among others in its priority in its relationship with the EU. If Nigeria does, we will be glad to assist. We do not go into sectors that countries do not ask for assistance in.

"To be able to establish a working relationship with Nigeria in its electricity sector, we need to understand the reforms in the sector. We need to understand the privatisation plan for the electricity sector, the whole reforms, whether they can be sustained.

"We also need to get assurances that legal stability matters will be put in place for Nigeria to be able to access millions of Euros available for energy funding. For instance, how competitive is the electricity sector pricing, and how sustainable is the recently introduced reforms in that area?" the UN official added.

Answering questions on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, he disagreed sharply with the cartel over its reactions to happenings in the international oil market.

Piebalgs explained: "I disagree with the policies of OPEC. Countries suffer from the problem that we suffer-volatility of prices. It is a nightmarish situation. The solution is not to cut production or increase production as the case may be. It should be a matter of allowing each country to produce to its capacity. It gives the wrong impression. These cuts and increases are not helpful. It is not good for anybody. The oil price is really high. Demand is strong and will always be there. Let's establish normal markets." guardian.

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