By Esther Ajibola
The long awaited dream of oil and gas exploration in the northern part of Nigeria became a reality, yesterday, as President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the spud-in of Kolmani River-II Well in Gongola Basin of Upper Benue Trough.
Performing the flag off ceremony, Buhari said that in spite of the diversification of the nation’s economy by his administration as well as the dwindling oil price at the international market, the commodity was still essential to the country’s economic .survival.
“Oil and gas remains critical to the Nigerian economy of today and the future. It remains key to the successful implementation of our budget at all levels of Government”, he said.
“The golden era of high oil prices may not be here now but oil and gas resources remain the most immediate and practical keys to our aggressive efforts at diversifying the economy. “As important as it is to ensure that other critical sectors of the economy are supported to grow and contribute more to the Nation’s economy, we still need a virile oil and gas Industry to take care of the challenges of the moment and to invest for the future.”
The President described the event as remarkable, saying that it represented a promise kept by his administration. According to him, the next level was to ensure a sustained effort in oil exploration in all the frontier basins in the country, adding that a country with balanced resources distribution was imperative in the quest for industrialization.
Earlier in his remarks, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, said the project was the evidence of the commitment of the Buhari administration to expand the hydrocarbons reserve base of the country.
He also expressed the readiness of the NNPC to resume oil exploration in the Chad basin as soon as the military gave the go-ahead in view of the insurgency activities in the area. Baru, however, appealed for patience, noting that oil exploration anywhere in the world required a lot of time.
Despite finding 146ft of hydrocarbon sand in Kolmani River-1Well prospect estimated to contain about 33BCF of gas in the 90s the International Oil Companies (IOCs) failed to investigate deep targets and left the region on the excuse of non commercial quantity find. Buhari on assumption of office in 2015 directed the NNPC to prioritize exploration efforts in the frontier basins in order to increase the national oil and gas reserves base and production.
Though the NNPC failed to disclose the production estimate of Kolmani II, the agency said it would fulfill the nation’s ambition of attaining national oil reserves of 40 billion barrels of crude oil and production to three billion barrels per day by 2025.