Nigeria’s refineries processed 10 million barrels of crude oil in the first quarter, more than they did for the whole of 2015, after talks with militants reduced attacks on facilities, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said.

Nigeria, a leading member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has a refining capacity of 445,000 barrels per day (bpd) but has been importing most of its fuel as its three refinery plants have been shut or are running at reduced capacity due to years of neglect, vandalism and theft on pipelines.

“Refining activities peaked at 10 million barrels of crude oil in the first quarter,” said the NNPC boss, Maikanti Baru, said in a statement.

This volume was an improvement when compared with just 8 million barrels for all of 2015 and 24 million for the whole of last year, Baru said during a presentation to a team from the UK’s Royal College of Defence Studies.

Last year’s militancy in the Niger Delta region cut crude output by as much as a third, but there has been a lull in attacks this year, leading to increased oil output.

Baru said that increased production was possible due to government’s peace talks with community groups in the region. Militants said they carried out attacks on oil instabilities because they wanted a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the impoverished Niger Delta, home to much of the country’s fossil fuels.

The 10 million barrels processed in the first quarter equates to around 111,000 barrels per day (bpd) or around 25 per cent of capacity.

Meantime, Italian oil company, Eni, plans to build a crude refinery in Nigeria with a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day through its Agip subsidiary, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Emmanuel Kachikwu, said last week.