Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: NNPC to Intensify Oil Search in Chad Basin

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has underlined its commitment to continue the search for oil in the inland basins, and notably the Chad Basin, to boost the hydro-carbon potentials of the country.

The Corporation said it remains confident about the prospect of discovering oil in commercial quantity, but lamented that its efforts were hindered by inadequate financing in its annual budget to the National Assembly.

The Group General Manager of NNPC, Engr. Austen Oniwon stated that despite the poor funding for oil prospecting in the inland basins, the Corporation would sustain its pursuit for oil in other areas of the country outside of the Niger Delta region.

Addressing members of the House of Representative Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), in Abuja, Oniwon stated that, "We do believe, based on the geology of what we see that there should be oil in other parts of the country outside of the Niger Delta.

"Unfortunately, in the past two years consecutively we have proposed for us to carry out exploration there (Chad basin), but we have got next to nothing on our financial demands. Last year when we applied for money in the budget, we got a mere $230,000, which was absolutely nothing.

This year alone we proposed a budget of $269 million and we only got $75 million. So our desire to explore for oil in the inland basins is being defeated because of budgetary handicaps."

He said NNPC "will continue to its our best, because even last year when we did not get what we wanted in the budget, we maintained operations and we sustained it at the Chad basin with the hope that this year our requested will be granted, and we will be able to pay back the debt from last year.

Unfortunately, we didn't get what we wanted. So we seek the understanding and support of the National Assembly in this area so that we can open up the inland basins to produce more crude oil and gas for this country because we are certain that we will be able to find oil if we go ahead with the exploration of those areas."

Moves by the Federal Government to build up the nations proven oil reserve through exploration of new frontiers for oil and gas production recently received a fresh thrust with the news that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is putting finishing touches to a comprehensive framework designed to herald the intensification of exploration activities in the Chad Basin.

Also determined to ensure that the latest quest for a sustainable oil find in the Chad Basin is met with success, the Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison- Madueke has directed the Corporation to leave no stone unturned in its push to strike 'black gold' in the prospective Chad Basin.

A recent statement made available by Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC quoted Mrs. Alison Madueke as saying that, "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 the discoveries of commercial hydrocarbon deposits in neighboring 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 hydrocarbon deposits, " the Minister stated.

Already the NNPC New Frontier Exploration Services Division which is leading the charge for crude oil find 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 6000km of 2-D data that is currently being reprocessed.

Discoveries have made in neighbouring countries in basins with similar structural settings such as Doba, Doseo and Bongor all in Chad amounts to over 2 Billion barrels (Bbbls); Logone Birni in Southern Chad and Northern Cameroun, over 100 Bbbls; and Termit-Agadem Basin in Niger totals over 1Bbbls.

Dr. Ajuonuma stated that currently over 600,000 seismic section and 30,000 well logs are being scanned and vectorised in good time for the eventual drilling. Before now, 23 wells have been drilled with two of the wells, Wadi-1 and Kinasar encountering non- commercial gas.

He added that the NNPC New Frontier Exploration Division which is headed by Engr. Olakunle Olaosebikan is working in consultation with a renowned Geophysicist and Consultant to the United Nations, Prof. Deborah Ajakaiye who is leading a team of Nigerian and foreign Geologists/Geophysicists in the search for hydrocarbon deposit in the Nigerian Frontier Inland Sedimentary Basins, NFISB.

"The search is not limited to the Chad Basin alone but covers extensive inquest in the entire Nigerian Frontier Sedimentary Basins which includes- The Anambra, Bida, Dahomey, Gongola/Yola and the Sokota Basins alongside the Middle/Lower Benue Trough," Ajuonuma stated.

He stated that as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to the host community and because of its proximity to the operations area, the Management of the NNPC has granted approval to engage the University of Maiduguri to conduct the environmental baseline studies/impact assessment for the Chad Basin project.

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