Nigeria says room for compromise in talks with oil firms

Nigeria's oil minister on Wednesday said she still saw room for compromise in talks between her country's government and oil companies, as Lagos sought a controversial overhaul of its oil industry.

"I think there's room to bridge the gap a little more," Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna.

"We're in ongoing discussions. We're hoping that we may be able to reach more of what a lot of the multinationals or the independents consider more a win-win situation."

"We'll continue those talks over the next few weeks and we hope that we come out with everybody feeling a little better about it."

After years of delay, President Goodluck Jonathan in July sent a new bill to parliament to overhaul Africa's biggest oil industry.

But oil firms have voiced criticism of proposed increases in taxes and royalties, and warned the new legislation might curb investment.

"We have increased government take which we felt was actually extremely negative and punitive towards the Nigerian government, with the prices of crude going up and the intake to government going down in terms of revenues," Madueke noted.

"However the multinationals and the independents obviously feel that it will be extremely punitive towards them in terms of new investments."

"So we're still looking at those figures with them, with hopes that we can close the gap slightly at least, and come to... a little more comfortable landing," she added.

Talks on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would continue "for some time to come," she said.

"It's a major bill, it's taken over 60 years in the making and it amalgamates 16 already existing laws. So it's not something that we're taking lightly at all."

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