At last, the federal government has given the approval for oil exploration in the Bida Basin, even as a Chinese firm has agreed to invest about $10 billion in the project.
Niger State commissioner of mining and mineral resources Engr Abubakar Baba Jibreel disclosed this in Minna yesterday at a ministerial media briefing to take stock of the achievements of the ministry in 2013 and the plan for the 2014 fiscal year for solid mineral development in the state. Jibreel informed that President Goodluck Jonathan had given the approval for the exploration of oil and gas deposit in the Bida Basin in the state.
According to him, the presidential approval was followed by the directive of the minister of petroleum, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to conduct investigation on the quality and viability of hydrocarbon deposit based on the report of the state government.
Jibreel said, "The DPR has started the study of the presentation and a five-man delegation have met with the experts from the DPR and the experts are scheduled to visit the state before the end of this month."
He further disclosed that experts from the DPR had earlier visited to assess the level of work done and to ventilate the window for investments in the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas deposits in the basin which has already attracted Chinese investors.
The commissioner explained that five firms have indicated interest to invest in the oil exploration in the basin, whereas a Chinese firm has agreed to invest over $10 billion in the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in Bida Basin.
He said, "We want to tell those who doubt that there is oil in Niger State to stop and join in the effort to make it flow. In fact, it is from Niger State that oil flowed to Niger Delta where we are exploiting it today. We should not also forget that if Chad and Sudan can have oil in large quantity, it is more possible to have oil in the northern part of Nigeria."
While informing that the state government would soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese firm, he said the laboratory investigation of the hydrocarbon deposit in the area showed a 70 per cent gas and 30 per cent oil presence.
Meanwhile, the commissioner has kicked against the activities of illegal miners in the state, stating that the action has been counter-productive. He said the state government has informed the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to curb the illegal activities as it was detrimental to economic development.