N149bn exploration commitments in new basins find no commercial oil

Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru

Despite gulping about N149.4billion since inception, the search for commercial oil (profitable enough to offset costs) in Nigeria’s new frontier basins remained thin, as the Bida Basin, Niger State foray for hydrocarbon has not yielded anticipated results.

Already, seven wells so far drilled in the Bida Basin, showed no sign of oil in commercial quantity.

Early this year, an estimated $10billion oil exploration project in Bida Basin, was approved for a Chinese firm to carry out preliminary works to determine the availability of oil in the area.

This amount is exclusive of the $340million, and additional N27billion committed by the Federal Government in seismic expedition since the beginning of search for oil in the new frontier.

A laboratory studies for hydrocarbon deposits in the Bida Basin revealed that there was about a 70 per cent gas and 30 per cent oil composition.

The Bida Basin also known as the Mid-Niger Basin is one of the inland sedimentary basins, where Nigeria is hopeful of finding profitable reserves.

But the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, dashed the hope on Sunday, dispelling speculations that oil had been found in commercial quantity in the Bida Basin.

Baru, who noted that NNPC is desirous of discovering hydrocarbon resources in the frontier basins, also disclosed that the Corporation was currently at the fourth, out of the ten intensive stages of determining if reserves had been generated in the basins.

He averred that upon the completion of determination NNPC would initiate another six stages of integration of the studies to identify positive hydrocarbon anomalies, acquire 2D seismic data over anomalies.

Furthermore, it would acquire 3D seismic data to validate identified structures for the drilling of exploration wells and appraisal wells, and evaluation of the engineering and economic parameters required.

He emphasized that in this fourth stage of activities, it is important to state that efforts have not advanced to the level of declaring discoveries, much less confirming the presence of oil and gas in commercial quantities.

“It is also imperative to state that even after commercial discovery of hydrocarbons, it is pertinent that pronouncements be made only after due validation of claims by the industry regulator – the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR),” Baru advised.

His position corroborates that of the Commissioner for Mineral Resources, Hajia Rahamatu Mohammed Yar’adua’s in a statement tagged, “The Bida Basin Project: The Correct Narrative,” confirming that Niger State had only engaged a consultant to carry out preliminary works to determine the availability of oil in the area.

She said the clarification became necessary following the misrepresentation of the State Government’s efforts in some media that government had claimed that oil had been discovered in commercial quantity in the State.

“The consultant has concluded most of the tasks entrusted to them. Shallow wells were drilled and shale samples results confirm the availability of hydrocarbon in the basin. The consultant will conduct seismic analysis of the basin soon to determine the quantity of oil and gas in the basin.”

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