Nigeria signs billions in oil and gas deals with China

Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Emmanuel Kachikwu, seen in June 2016, said he expects there to be zero oil proudction shutdowns in 2017 "as a result of militancy" (AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)

Lagos (AFP) - The Nigerian government announced Thursday that it signed $80 billion worth in oil and gas deals with Chinese companies.

Nigerian junior state oil minister and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) head Emmanuel Kachikwu met Chinese investors in Beijing this week to attract money for upgrading the country's ageing and run-down refineries.

Kachikwu's visit comes two months after President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to China and secured a $6 billion loan and currency swap deal to mitigate a looming recession and ballooning inflation in the West African county.

Nigeria signed "MOUs with Chinese firms worth over $80 billion," the NNPC said in a statement.

"The corporation has achieved its bid to bridge the infrastructure funding gaps in the Nigerian gas and oil sector."

But whether the agreements result in concrete upgrades will depend on if Buhari's government can halt rising militancy in the oil-producing south.

"Headline announcements such as this are often significantly larger than the actual investment that ends up materialising," Rhidoy Rashid, an analyst at London-based Energy Aspects, said to AFP.

"While some projects may go ahead, others will not, especially given the current security situation in Nigeria."

The oil-rich Niger delta region has been hit by a wave of attacks by militants who demand a greater share of oil revenue and more political autonomy.

But this week the NNPC said June production was back up from a low of around 1.6 million barrels per day to 1.9 bpd thanks to repair work and a lull in attacks.