PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari today flagged off the first crude oil drilling project in northern Nigeria, on the boundary of Bauchi and Gombe states.
At the occasion, the President disclosed that over a billion barrels of oil has been found in the region.
Buhari further said that the country has also found 500 billion cubic feet of gas within the Kolmani area of Gombe and Bauchi, which, according to him, has attracted $3 billion investment already.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCLtd) had in October 2019 announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the north-eastern part of the country.
The commercial quantity discovery was the first in the region after several crude oil explorations in the Upper Benue Trough, with records of the kidnap of some exploration workers, prior to the discovery.
According to the President, the oilfield would be developed by Sterling Global Oil, New Nigeria Development Commission (NNDC) and NNPC Ltd.
The discovery of oil and gas resources, in commercial quantities in Gongola basin, the NNPCLtd said, would attract foreign investment, generate employment for people to earn income and increase government revenues.
President Buhari expressed joy at the flag-off ceremony that the successful discovery of the Kolmani oil and gas field has finally broken a decades-long jinx.
“This is, indeed, significant, considering that efforts to find commercial oil and gas outside the established Niger Delta Basin were attempted for many years without the desired outcomes,” he said.
The President noted that the discovery emanated from charge issued to the NNPCLtd to re-strategize and expand its oil and gas exploration footprints to the frontier basins of Anambra, Dahomey, Sokoto, Benue trough, Chad and Bida basins.
He noted that similar activities across the other basins are actively ongoing.
“We are pleased with the current discovery of over 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion cubic feet of gas within the Kolmani area and the huge potential for more deposits as we intensify exploration efforts.
“As a fully integrated in-situ development project comprising upstream production, oil refining, power generation and fertilizer, the project promises many benefits for the nation. This includes but is not limited to energy security, financial security and food security, as well as overall socio-economic development for the country,” he said.
Buhari noted that considering the landlocked location and the huge capital requirement, the economics of the project is a challenging proposition.
“Consequently, from the onset, I instructed NNPC Ltd to utilize and leverage their vast asset portfolio across all corridors of its operations to de-risk the project to attract the much-needed investment. I have directed the NNPC to continue along these lines.
“It is, therefore, to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near-zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able to attract investment of over USD 3 billion to this project,” he said.
According to him, this would be a reference subject for favourable discussion in the industry as Nigeria pursues the energy transition programme that is expected to culminate in achieving net-zero position 1 by the year 2060.
“I have engaged the governors of Bauchi and Gombe states, and both have given me assurances of their unwavering commitment and willingness to ensure support and cooperation in these localities as this activity affects the local populations,” he said.
He urged the NNPC Ltd., NNDC, and their strategic partners to ensure that all lessons learnt from the country’s years of experience as an oil-producing nation are utilized to ensure harmonious relationships with the local communities.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.