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‘Nigeria must be strategic about oil exploration in the north’

Former President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Abiodun Adesanya, has called for tactical approach towards oil exploration in the Northern region of the country and other inland basins.

President Muhammadu Buhari had flagged off well drilling activities at Kolmani River Well of the Gongola Basin, at the border of Bauchi and Gombe State.

Buhari, who said the development would boost the nation’s oil reserves to 40 billion, and daily production to three million barrels, directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to intensify oil exploration efforts in all frontier basins including Chad Basin, Gongola Basin, Anambra Basin, Sokoto Basin, Dahomey Basin, Bida Basin, and Benue Trough.

Adesanya noted that the current efforts remained critical to reserves addition in the country, but warned that the Federal Government must begin holistic approach that would proactively evaluate circumstances surrounding the exploration activities.

Though the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said analyses of the oil search has shown possibility of gas, Adesanya said Nigeria must set up a body that would highlight the implications of oil or gas discovery in the region, and what the economic impacts would be.

“There is need to constitute an economic think-tank group to seriously examine what the implications of a successful exploration campaign mean in this area,” he said.

With the potential of gas discovery, Adesanya noted that the hub could be turned a power generation and industrial hub.

He said “If we find gas there, they should turn it into another Kanji Dam, Shiroro Dam, Jebba among others then generate the electricity around that area. You then need transmission line instead of gas pipelines.

“And then you enter the national grid at a point. The electricity generated will simply increase the overall power we have in the country.

“Gombe is closer to Gongola basin than Bauchi. They could make transmission line to Gombe, and at one point you enter the national grid. Alternatively, you can connect a gas pipeline to Gombe, and then build the Independent Power Plant at Gombe.

“If we can get people to start thinking ahead it will be very useful. We will have options and subject it to discussion. There is wet gas and dry gas. And what they found in well one was wet gas, which means if they squeeze it they can get liquid gas, which could lead to a mini-refinery.”

He was hopeful that Nigeria would discover reserves across the basins, adding that government must involve experts to drive the success of the project.

“If they continue with the level of professionalism and involve people in the business who are not just NNPC and civil servants then we will have success,” Adesanya said.

Considering that a similar attempt has ended in futility at the Chad Basin due to security challenges, Adesanya called a proper security at the Gongola basin to advert security issues.

He said the project could be stalled as oil companies and service firms would avoid the location.

Adesanya equally called for proactive approach to host community issues to avoid the current challenges in the Niger Delta region.