YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited the oil-producing Delta region on Friday as the government sought to broker peace with militants whose attacks have hammered the country’s crude production.
Nigeria depends on oil exports for as much as 70 percent of government revenues. Militant attacks on production facilities last year slashed output by as much as one-third.
A peace deal could help revive production, with the government this year aiming to produce an average of 2.2 million barrels per day. In January, Osinbajo said production was 1.7-1.8 million barrels per day.
“We seek to first to understand the problems and to offer solutions,” Osinbajo told various interest groups during a meeting in the oil-producing state of Bayelsa in the southeast.
Militant groups undermine their own interests if they facilitate attacks on oil facilities, said Osinbajo.
“Since the destruction began, Nigeria began to lose one million barrels per day and almost 60 percent of revenues have been lost to vandalisation,” he said.
“You cannot destroy the sources of revenue and expect rapid development - development comes with revenue.”
The talks in Bayelsa state mark Osinbajo’s second, as he continues a tour of Nigeria’s southeastern oil hub seeking an accord with its disaffected communities. He had previously held discussions in Delta state.
Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Tom Heneghan