NIGERIA MOVES TO RESTRUCTURE OIL SALES POLICY

NIGERIA MOVES TO RESTRUCTURE OIL SALES POLICY

Nigeria has decided to restructure its sales of crude oil by cutting out middlemen and granting financial autonomy to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., Petroleum Minister Rilwanu Lukman said.

The shift in policy, intended to make NNPC a commercial, integrated, international oil company, was introduced last week.The new marketing strategy will also call for an increase in Nigeria's quota, 1.307 million barrels a day, said Mr. Lukman, who is also president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Nigeria will market its oil in one of three ways, Mr. Lukman said: Through oil companies that are engaged in joint ventures in Nigeria - mainly the major integrated companies, through refineries in which NNPC has acquired a share- holding, and through companies that have been granted an oil exploration license by the government.

The strategy is designed to cut out government-to-government deals, which until now have generally concerned other West African governments, and particularly traders and brokers.

the sale of crude to end-users and upstream and downstream partners has been found to be more wholesome and stable, rather than going through third parties, Mr. Lukman said.

A New York trader handling Nigerian residual fuel oil, said he believed the new policy only applied to crude.

Contracts that do not fall into one of the three above categories will be phased out immediately, Mr. Lukman said.

Third-party brokers have until April 15 to clear deals already undertaken.