Buhari hints at $15 billion deal with Shell

President Muhammadu Buhari met with Shell on Wednesday as part of talks he said were to secure $15 billion of investment in Nigeria.

“I saw Shell Group, they came here, they saw me, they are preparing to invest $15 billion in Nigeria… so really, we are not doing too badly,” Buhari said to applause at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London on Wednesday. He was speaking as part of a panel on the ease of doing business between Commonwealth countries.

Shell confirmed to CNBC that the meeting had taken place, but did not comment on the size of the specific investment.

A spokesperson said in a statement: “Nigeria is an important country for Shell. We see good opportunities there for potential investment,” referencing its Bonga offshore oil field and the expansion of liquefied natural gas as examples of this. “Both projects are subject to a future final investment decision and we continue to work with our partners and the government towards that in each case.”

Shell’s statement added: “The potential investments feature as options in our long-term plans and would fit within our capital spending range of $25 to $30 billion per year if we decide to go ahead with them.”

Oil price volatility has hit Nigeria’s economy — the largest on the African continent — hard. In 2016, the country suffered its first full-year recession in 25 years. Economic growth remains sluggish, expected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be 2.1 percent for 2018, well below the emerging market average of 4.9 percent.

Oil accounts for approximately 35 percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which Nigeria is a member.

Buhari referenced that, as of October, Nigeria had risen 24 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking to 145th out of a total of 190 economies.

“We acknowledge that much more is to be done,” he said. “We are now in the next stage, this is work in progress.”

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