For Africa, Nigeria’s petroleum industry is the biggest. The petroleum industry is the country’s main generator of GDP while being the most populous nation. Since the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta in the late 1950’s, the petroleum industry / oil industry has been marred by political and economic challenges due to a long history of corrupt military groups and the complicity of multinational corporations.
The discovery of oil and the game changer for Nigeria’s petroleum industry occurred in 1956. Before the discovery of oil, Nigeria like many other African countries strongly relied on agricultural exports to other countries to supply their economy. In fact, that’s what many Nigerians thought the developers were looking for—palm oil.
Thirteen years ago, oil and gas exports accounted for more than 98% of export earnings and about 83% of federal government revenue, as well as generating more than 14% of its GDP. The petroleum industry also provides 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and around 65% of government budgetary revenues.
Nigeria’s proven oil reserves are estimated at between 16 and 22 billion barrels, however other sources claim there could be as much as 35.3 billion barrels. Its reserves make Nigeria the tenth most petroleum-rich nation, and by the far the most affluent in Africa.
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