Buhari flags off oil exploration in Bauchi, Gombe tomorrow

By Adewale Sanyaolu

Barring any last minute change of plan, President Muhammadu  Buhari will tomorrow flag off oil exploration activities in Bauchi and Gombe States.

Specifically, the president will conduct the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kolmani Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 809 and 810 at the Kolmani field site located in Bauchi and Gombe states.

Nigeria currently produces far less than its Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC) quota of 2.1 million barrels per day due to hostilities and oil theft in the Niger Delta region.

The latest efforts for oil search at the Kolmani River-II Well in the Gongola Basin have been ongoing for some years with geologists optimistic of commercial discoveries in the zone.

This was even as industry observers lauded the  political will of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) to intensify search for hydrocarbon resources in the region amidst stiff opposition from various stakeholders. ‘‘The flag off of oil drilling in Kolmani River-11 further lays credence that the NNPCL was right afterall in its sustained search for oil in this region. We are happy with with development and wish to congratulate Mr. President and his team,’’ said some industry observers.

In July 2019,  during an inspection tour of the ongoing drilling operations at the Kolmani River-II Well drilling site in Bauchi and Gombe States, along with his successor, Mr Mele Kyari, late Dr. Maikanti Baru, the then Group Managing Director of NNPC, said he could not wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to light the first flame at the area, signifying a  potential discovery of hydrocarbons.

He said: “With the level of commitment and dedication I have seen on the part of the exploration team, I cannot wait for Mr. President to light the first flame at the area.”

Commenting on the development, Managing Director of Contrac International Services, an oil survey firm Mr. Jude Elochukwu, said the move by Buhari, will translate to economic prosperity for the country, saying the commencement of oil drilling in Kolmani River-11, would bring a new dawn for the oil and gas industry.

He said the hope for increased oil production can now be renewed as Nigeria’s oil production was nearly at its knees due to massive oil theft in the Niger Delta region. Also speaking, Chief Executive Officer of Synergy Oil Drilling Services Limited, Mr.Ademola Oladiti, gave kudos to NNPCL, Ministry of Petroleum and other Government agencies for sustaining the search.

He said fresh oil discovery in other parts of the country was long overdue because of the security challenges in the Niger Delta.

Besides, he  said the commencement of oil drilling in Kolmani River-11 will open a fresh vista of opportunities for young engineers to play their trade, there reducing unemployment.

He said the exploration activities will create room for more job opportunities for young geologists, petroleum engineers, electrical and mechanical engineers.

Oladiti added that the  aspiration of the country to grow its oil reserves to about 40 billion barrels may be achieved with this new drilling project.

He lamented that there hasn’t been new discoveries in the country for some time because the International Oil Companies(IOCs) were no longer making fresh investments but rather divesting their assets due to myriad of problems in the Nigeria Delta.

Former Director, Centre for Petroleum Economics and Energy Law, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adeola Adenikinju, and  publisher, Africa Oil and Gas Report, a magazine focusing on the petroleum sector, Mr. Toyin Akinosho, had in an interview with Daily Sun acknowledged the need for more oil fields to be discovered outside the Niger Delta region, considering the security challenges associated with that part of the country.

Akinosho said it was a good idea for government to make new discoveries through exploration activities because exploration is all about knowledge seeking, and not necessarily about discovery of oil because it creates a lead to solving other problems.

He explained that in trying to explore for oil , gas could be discovered in the process, and such could be used to generate about 100 megawatts of electricity for that region, which, he said, is value addition since that was not the original intention.

The president is expected to carry out the historic exercise with the support of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Timipre Sylva and the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, among other industry leaders.

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