NIGERIA’ RESERVES rose to 58.3 Billion dollars (37.4 billion euros) in February 2008 from 54.79 billion dollars the previous month, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said. The bank said the reserves had grown steadily in the last three years, driven by high crude oil prices in the international market. Oil prices simmered down in February 2008 after hitting a record 111 dollars per barrel overnight, but analysts said prices remain on the boil due to a sharp fall in the value of the US dollar.
New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, was at 109.78 dollars per barrel in Asian trade, down 55 cents from its all-time closing high of 110.33 dollars in New York. The CBN said the reserves level, which hit 45 billion dollars in 2005, dropped to 32 billion dollars after Nigeria paid 12.4 billion dollars in debt owed to governments in the Paris Club of creditors. It said reserves began to build from April 2006, when the total came to 37 billion dollars. The total then went to 41.95 billion in December 2006 and to 42.65 billion in the first weeks of 2007. The Paris Club in 2005 cancelled 18 billion dollars of Nigeria’s debt, leaving a total of 12.4 billion dollars, including arrears and interest. Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer with a daily output of 2.6 million barrels at peak production level, derives around 95 percent of its foreign earnings from the oil sector.