Buhari Orders Commencement of Oil Drilling in the North From October 2016

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the commencement of oil drilling activities in the Chad Basin from October 2016.

The minister of state for petroleum resources and group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Ibe Kachikwu disclosed this weekend. Kachikwu said that drilling activities will commence in the Chad Basin in the fourth quarter (Q4) of this year.

Kachikwu who disclosed this yesterday through the group general manager, Group Public Affairs of the NNPC, Garba Deen Mohammad, stated that the commitment of the federal government and the NNPC to explore for oil and gas in the inland basins, especially Chad Basin and the Benue Trough, is unwavering and on the front burner.

Specifically, he said, the NNPC through its Frontier Exploration Services and Renewable Energy Division (FESRED) had progressed reasonably with seismic acquisition activities in the Chad Basin frontier area till insurgency necessitated the suspension of operation there.

He said eight phases, out of the planned 12 phase project, to cover 3, 550 sq.km, had been acquired by the date of suspension of operation on November 24, 2014.

“A total of 1, 962 sq.km have been acquired and processed; interpretation is currently ongoing at about 90 per cent completion, and drilling activities will commence by the last quarter of 2016,’’ Kachikwu disclosed.

He explained that the seismic activities were carried out with due regard to environmental protection and in accordance with international best practices, and was being handled by the Integrated Data Services Ltd, a subsidiary of the NNPC, and BGP, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPP).

Kachikwu noted that exploration in the Chad Basin was aimed at increasing the nation’s oil and gas reserves and adding value to the hydrocarbon potential of the Nigerian inland basin, providing investment opportunities, boosting the economy as well as creating millions of new jobs.

“The decision to diversify our business portfolio is about all of us and about the future of our dear country; the vision is clear, and we are determined not to fail,’’ Kachikwu added, while inviting the private sector and venture capitalists across the globe to partner with the NNPC in planned Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to profitably harness the enormous energy resources in Nigeria.

In March this year, President Muhammadu Buhari had disclosed that his administration had plans to extend oil and gas exploration into new fields in the Chad Basin in the North East and in the coastal states, like Lagos, where oil has been discovered in commercial quantity.

The president, who spoke through Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while declaring open the 6th African Petroleum Congress and Exhibition (CAPE VI) in Abuja, disclosed that, as part of strategies to reposition the Nigerian oil and gas industry, his government 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.

Meanwhile, findings showed that oil exploration in the Chad Basin dates back to 1978 and that about 23 wells had been drilled and abandoned in the north over the years; however, the debate about the region having proven oil in commercial quantity as well as perceived lack of will for intensified search had delayed the project till date.