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Bauchi/Gombe Oil Search: Our Analyses Show Possibility Of Gas -Baru

The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Dr. Maikanti Baru, spoke with journalists at the sidelines of the flag-off of drilling activities in the Kolmani River II Oil Well, near Barambu village in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State. Excerpts:

Why is NNPC drilling for oil in the basin after some International Oil Companies have done so in the early 1990s but abandoned the project midway?

As a country that is already producing hydrocarbon, it needs to sustain production, especially as reserves cannot be replenished; we have to look for more reserves.

Exploring frontier basin areas that have not been explored, are normally very risky and costly and the private sector would not want to take that risk, they expect the government to go out and look for it, and once the reserves had established the presence of hydrocarbons, then the private sector would come in and develop it. It is the same concept that we are adopting based on the president’s directives.

President Buhari in 2016 mandated NNPC to increase exploration in the frontier basins. Is this activity to show Mr. President that his mandate is being executed?

Today is promise delivered, for him to see that we have fully returned to the frontier exploration of the inland basin and we are very hopeful that with the exploration that we are embarking upon this particular well would be a test case on the Kolmani prospects.  We have six prospects that we have identified in the Kolmani River Basin and after this is successful we are going to the next location, and next. If you look just behind this rig, across the river, you will see that we have called in the Nigerian Army Engineers to build a bridge for us which would take us to our next location; the Kolmani River III, which is just 1.7 to 2.0 kilometres from here.

Then after Kolmani River III, we will go about 7 to 8 kilometers away from the third location to get to Kolmani River South East Location. That would be the third well that we intend to drill successfully, just after this. The rig is going to keep moving. and

We have identified three additional prospects that are maturing in the Kolmani River prospect area. It is a day of joy for the NNPC, for fulfilling the mandate of the president. It is a day of joy for all Nigerians that some activities have resumed in real terms in the inland basin.

What is the state of exploration at the Chad Basin and other inland basins?

In the Chad Basin, we have lots of challenges, especially in terms of security. We had to step down activity there in 2017; and up the Gongola basin.

The Kolmani River is the area that we have here. There are several prospects that we have seen and this is the second well that we are drilling here. There is already a well that was drilled here in 1999 by SNEPCO. At that time, the amount of hydrocarbons they saw was not commercial in their own judgment. However, when we read the data, we observed that they 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 have been in this basin as far back as 1999, we know what our activities are going to be, and we have been taking relevant steps to ensure that our activities do not leave significant footprints should we move out of the place.

What should Nigerians expect from this ongoing exercise, oil or gas and in what quantity?

At the moment, what we are looking at is deep down, we are looking at kilometers below the ground, nobody has gone there. The only thing done is to run seismic, which essentially helps us to map below the ground and we have mapped this very well and we can only have indications of what we are expecting to find. It is only drilling that would confirm whether there is any resource there; it will also confirm our professional judgment. So, in terms of volumes, types and all that, let us wait.

What would be the implication if this drilling exercise yields positive result? 

If we hit success what people are going to see is development. This is because at the moment, most of the analyses are indicating the possibility of having gas. So if it is going to be gas, we are going to have activities in terms of establishing power plants; we are going to have activities in terms of establishing fertilizer plants; and also have activities relating to possibly other industries like petrochemicals. It is going to be great.  This place is going to be transformed industrially.  We are very much looking forward to that.

When do we expect the drilling of Kolmani River-II Well to be completed?

This well is designed to be 14,500 feet deep and at the moment, we are looking at roughly 60 to 70 days to be able to reach our target depth. If we reach 14,500 and we still find some interests from the results and it requires that we need to go deeper, this rig is modern, it can go up to 20,000 feet.

How do you intend to deal with concerns of locals and communities within exploration areas?

Host community relationship is extremely important. As we came in to do our seismic investigations, we have already been doing a lot of community relations activities.

Specifically, the larger community area has problem of water supply and within the activities we have already drilled 27 water boreholes with handheld pumps. We have also intervened in the community by beginning to build some health centres so that they could have some medications.

We have also intervened in repairing some of their educational institutions and what really we should do is that should we be successful, we really want to modernise the villages that we have seen around. We want to make them a modern oil community environment. The good part of it is that this community, unlike the Niger Delta, has been very comely; they feed our crew without us even asking or begging. They bring beverages and their local foods for us for free. The community is very welcoming and we intend to appreciate this by doing more for them.