· 33, 500 sq km seismic data to be acquired
· N27 billion, $340 million spent
· British firm joins the search
The quest for oil in the Lake Chad Basin area of Northern Nigeria is alive and well.
And the prospects seem quite bright indeed, from emerging data seen by our reporter.
The emerging facts indicate that a total of 23 oil wells have already been drilled by prospecting oil companies that have engaged in oil exploration in the North in the past 30 years.
While 21 of these wells are said to hold some prospects of oil in commercial quantity, only two of the wells reportedly hit a dry run.
Our findings indicate that the search for oil in the North has, so far, gulped a whopping sum of about N27 billion and $340 million respectively.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is reportedly gearing up to pump more money into the quest – in compliance with the recent Presidential directive to resume oil exploration in the North.
A recent document prepared by the NNPC, dated October 7, 2016 and marked “up-date” on the oil exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin, seen by The AUTHORITY, also revealed that 33,550 sq km of 3-D seismic data would soon be acquired for processing, in an effort to get a clearer picture of oil reserves in the area.
The drills and finds are from the oil bloc 809, which is being held by the Nigerian National Development Company (NNDC) a subsidiary of NNPC, vested with the duties of exploration and investment.
But the tone of the report shows that the prospects of oil in the North are still mere potentials and remain in the realm of possibilities, despite the huge investments made so far.
The document states: “Though it is too early to be categorical, there is a possibility that we may find oil in commercial quantity in the Chad Basin because of deposits in neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger and Sudan which have similar structural settings with the Chad Basin. Therefore it is prudent to aggressively explore the Chad Basin for possible deposits.”
The report also said that discoveries made in neighbouring countries in basins with similar structural settings like Dabo, Daseo and Bongar in Chad amount to a reserve of over two billion barrels reserve.
Other areas, according to the report, are Longone, Birni in Southern Chad and Northern Cameroun where over one billion barrels holding reserve exists; and Termit-Agadam Basin in Niger Republic which also holds a reserve of over one billion barrels.
“Already, the NNPC New Frontier Exploration Services Division which is leading the charge for crude oil finds in the entire Inland Basins is acquiring 3,550 sq km of 3-D seismic data for processing and interpretation in addition to the already acquired 6,000 km of 2-D data that is currently being processed”, the report said.
The document further said that “currently over 600,000 seismic section and 30,000 wells log are being scanned and rectorised (sic) in good time for the eventual drilling”.
The report pointed out that before now, “23 wells have been drilled with two of the wells, Wadi-1 and Kinsar, encountering non-commercial gas.”
It revealed that the search is not limited to Chad Basin alone but covers other parts of the country. “The search is not limited to the Chad Basin alone but covers extensive inquest in the entire Nigerian Frontier Sedimentary; Anambra, Bida, Dahomey, Gongola/Yola and the Sokoto Basins alongside the Middle/Lower Benue Trough”, the report said.
The University of Maiduguri was awarded the contract to conduct the environmental baseline studies/impact assessment for the Chad Basin project “as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to the host community and because of its proximity to the operational area”, it said.
The AUTHORITY also learnt that a British firm was appointed by the 19 Northern governors through the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC) to also carry out exploration activities for oil and gas in Lake Chad region and Benue Trough so as to fast-track the process and diminish the accusation by the oil rich Delta region that the North has nothing to contribute to the nation’s economy.
This was confirmed recently by Mallam Bashir Dalhatu, the Chairman of NNDC, who was quoted to have said in Katsina State after a meeting with the governor that “We have engaged a British Company that is already working in the Lake Chad region and from Niger and Chad side in the same area with us and we have been meeting with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in order to put efforts together.”
But a Geologist based in Port Harcourt, who spoke with our reporter on phone and requested anonymity, said that the quest for oil in the North is “a fruitless engagement” that will just drain Nigeria’s scarce resource at this time of recession because they would find nothing of commercial interest in the area.
“I can tell you that they just want to waste our money there because major multi-national oil companies have been there earlier, invested huge sums of money to explore oil in the Chad Basin and later left when they discovered that it amounts to efforts in futility. But the NNPC had been compelled for a long time now to continue to search and it has become an endless search without success. But if the President insists that they should continue, I wish them luck.”