The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in his address at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Lagos said the country will have to halt oil production if the cost of producing the commodity remains stubbornly high, The Punch reports.

He said the country was being left behind by its peers who had dramatically reduced their costs of production. He said countries within the United Arab Emirates had cut costs very dramatically, describing them as the lowest-cost producers in the world. According to Kachikwu, only oil companies who are able to drive down costs will have a footage in Nigeria.

He said, “For me, you rather leave the oil in the ground than produce at a cost that doesn’t make sense. So, cost is going to be a very high driver. So that is certainly one area we are focusing on; we are working collaboratively with oil companies. But let’s make no mistake about it: If we cannot negotiate it down, we will compel it or we will stop the production; it does not make any sense.”