President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, flagged off oil and gas drilling activities in Kolmani River-II Well in the Gongola Basin, Upper Benue trough, in Bauchi State.
According to the President, the development is aimed at achieving sufficiency through hydrocarbon resources from other frontier basins, which is a key execution priority of his government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“A key execution priority of our ERGP is ensuring national energy sufficiency and this cannot be achieved through hydrocarbon resources from the conventional basins alone. Therefore exploration in our frontier basins is a national imperative and a core policy thrust that must be sustained,” the president said while speaking at the spud-in.
The commencement of drilling operations in the basin ushers in new vistas for Nigeria’s oil industry as part of efforts to boost the nation’s oil reserves to 40 billion barrels, and daily production to 3million barrels per day.
The president emphasised the need to explore oil in the frontier inland basins, describing it as a national priority in the interest of the Nigeria’s economy, as revenue from the sector is key to the successful budgetary implementation by government at all levels.
The spud-in comes after series of seismic data gathering by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Drilling operations will confirm the presence of oil and gas in the area and determine if it is in commercial quantity.
Speaking on directives to the NNPC to extend exploration to the six basins in the country, Buhari said, “Our next level is to ensure exploration efforts on all our frontier basins, namely Chad Basin, Gongola, Anambra, Sokoto, Dahomey, and Bida basins and Benue Trough are intensified to usher in prospects for a more prosperous Nigeria.”
Although, in 1999, Shell had drilled the first well in the Kolmani Rever-I, and did not find oil in commercial quantity, Group Managing Director of the NNPC Dr. Maikanti Baru told journalists on the sidelines of the flag-off that data reviewed showed that the company did not go deep enough.
“So we have come here based on the three dimensional seismic and other subsurface reviews and studies that we have done. We are looking at kilometers below the ground, nobody has gone there. Drilling would confirm whether there is any resource there,” Dr Baru added.
The NNPC chief explained that there were indications for success based on new technologies and prevailing data from neighbouring countries. He said the corporation has 60 to 70 days to reach a target depth of 14,500 feet, adding however, that drilling could reach 20,000 feet if results show the need to go deeper.
Earlier, while commiserating with those who made sacrifices towards ensuring the realization of the set goals, Baru said oil exploration was a capital intensive project that took many years to accomplish.