28 July 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal government’s plans to resume exploratory activities in the Chad Basin in the last quarter of 2016 have received a boost as investors, experts and other stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas sector have expressed optimism at the possibility of discovering oil in large commercial quantity in the region.
President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed recently that his administration had commenced the process of implementing carefully conceived initiatives which would see the country hitting a production target of 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil through a series of actions aimed at extending oil and gas exploration into new fields in the Lake Chad Basin in the northeast, and in the coastal states like Lagos where oil has been discovered in commercial quantity.
Investors in the nation’s oil and gas sector have commended the government’s initiative, saying the northern region of Nigeria has about 2.3 billion barrels of oil and about 14.65 trillion standard cubic feet of natural gas in the Chad Basin.
This, in addition to about 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and about 187 trillion standard cubic feet of gas in the South, means more income for the nation, especially at the critical time when the nation is facing serious agitations from militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.
Also, oil and gas experts have reaffirmed their confidence in the 3D seismic studies generated from the Chad Basin recently which revealed that oil may well be very close to being found now in Lake Chad.
The search for oil in Nigeria’s Chad basin, which is adjacent to Niger Republic, Cameroon and Chad, had been on for three decades.
Former Minister of Interior and Chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, noted in an interview recently that there was a strong possibility that oil would be found in the region soon.
He also said the development of a fledging oil and gas industry in the northeast would boost the economic fortunes of the country.
The President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Professor Gbenga Okunlola, expressed the hope that the country’s north has massive quantities of oil judging by the discoveries of commercial oil in neighbouring countries like Chad and Niger and even farther away in Uganda and Kenya.
“There should be in ours, too, because the geology that exist there are the same with the ones we have in our inland basins. It would make economic and socio-economic sense to explore for oil and gas in these basins if only to increase Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources,” he said.
Also, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed, special adviser on petroleum resources to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), said the discovery of oil in nearby countries “should serve as booster, encourage and stimulate” the government to explore for hydrocarbons in Benue, Chad, Anambra and other inland basins.”
Mohammed also said government should consider energy security as very important and note that the concentration of oil exploration in one part of the country would be counterproductive if serious security issues arise in the area.
He blamed inconsistency in policies and the inability of successive regimes to continue the activities started by previous governments as the major reasons exploration work had not begun in the region.
According to him, it would make economic and socio-economic sense to explore for oil and gas in these basins if only to increase Nigeria’s hydrocarbon resources.
“If oil is explored here in the north, the over-dependence on oil in the Niger Delta will be reduced and, of course, the social and economic welfare of the people will be improved as many jobs will be created and the region will be better for it,” he maintained.
The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, also advised the government to put in more efforts to ensure the realisation of the project.
On whether the insurgency in the region will create a challenge, Yusuf argued that “insurgency cannot last forever and, more so, the trend is declining.”
He asserted that the current volatility in the oil sector has taught the country a lesson, adding that synergies should be built and new approaches adopted to enable the country expand its economy, infrastructure, manpower base, maintain domestic and regional peace and protect the environment.