The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group General Manager, Frontier Exploration Services (FES), Dr. Mazadu D. Bako, speaks on oil exploration and drilling in Northern Nigeria.
Where are we so far since President Muhammadu Buhari directed the NNPC to increase the tempo on search for crude oil in the Lake Chad Basin and Benue Trough?
Since Mr. President gave the marching order for renewed effort in the search for hydrocarbons at the inland basins, we have made tremendous progress. For the Chad Basin, we actually started the seismic data acquisition in 2010 after we obtained the approval in 2009. Since then, up to November 2014, we had acquired over 1900km2 of 3D seismic data. Prior to that (1976 – 1997) we had drilled 23 wells based on 2D data and only 2 wells encountered non-commercial gas shows. This 3D is an improvement over the 2D which is newer technology.
From the over 1900km2 (of 3D seismic data) we have interpreted 1500km2 from which we have identified some prospects that have matured for drilling and we have some leads as well that have been identified. These leads will be further de-risked to a point that we can drill. Prior to now in the Benue Trough, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), Chevron and Total had acquired some 2D data. Each of them drilled a well to satisfy the minimum work commitment because they also acquired juicy acreages offshore. They satisfied the minimum commitment and pulled out.
Only Shell made some find of 33 billion cubic feet (bcf)of gas and they plugged the well and abandoned it. All the same we are going back to look at the whole area and other prospects because the 2D that they acquired we have reinterpreted in-house and seen more leads that we need to pursue. Currently, we are using 3D technology.
When do we expect a significant breakthrough from the renewed search?
Drilling requires a lot of contractual process and this process is going to be like some 4 to 5 months from now; the contractual process for putting the drilling rigs, accessories, access roads takes some time.
How badly has insurgency affected exploration activities in the Lake Chad?
Yes, insurgency has affected our operations in the Chad Basin because we had to suspend operations on November 24, 2014. At the height of Boko Haram we could not go in there. But now we have gotten all the clearance from the security agencies and we have entered into dialogue with the military. Last week our operations team visited the Nigerian Army Field Commanders in Monguno to discuss our strategy for the re-entry to the Chad Basin. The Integrated Data Service Limited (IDSL-NNPC), being the major contractor for the 3D seismic acquisition, in addition to Bureau for Geophysical Prospecting (BGP-CNPC), the Universities of Jos and Maiduguri were in attendance. So, we have all the security back up to re-enter.
What are NNPC’s plans for other inland basins particularly the Bida, Sokoto and Anambra basins?
Severn Energy is already producing gas at the Anambra Basin. So, we already know that it is a producing area. There is another oil company exploring and producing that is causing some friction between Anambra and Kogi state communities (ownership). So, that one is exactly not a frontier.
For Bida and Sokoto basins we are putting the two together. Last week we had a meeting with IBB University Lapai and the vice chancellor was also in attendance. We are starting first with the geology of the area because we don’t have a lot of information on it prior to now. We have bought some data from the Nigerian Geographical Survey Agency that is aeromagnetic and gravity. We have analyzed the aeromagnetic and gravity data and now know where the basins are deep.
IBB University and others that have knowledge of the area have been chosen to lead. We are still holding technical meetings with them (IBBUL) for us to present to them what we have done geologically and they will also present to us all the work that they have done.
Researchers from the IBB University, Lapai recently announced that they had discovered large quantity of crude deposit at the Bida Basin. What is NNPC doing about this?
I will not sit down here and tell you I have discovered any oil. I am not doing it in theory. We are practical people. When we met them (the researchers), the professor (said he) was quoted out of context. They have not found any oil, neither have they designed any new drilling method because if they have found oil and have a new drilling method then they don’t need NNPC. When you find oil it is not hidden, there is celebration, the community will celebrate.
Was the meeting with the IBB University sequel to the announcement or just coincidence?
Not at all, it is something that we have been doing with them. It is something we have planned it is just that the meeting coincided with the announcement.
Where is NNPC’s source of funding?
We are funded from the Federation Account. The most important thing is, do we have enough resources to prosecute our plans? Yes we do.
What are the other challenges?
Since this government came into power we have not had any challenge. What is holding us back in the Chad Basin is just the insurgency. Any report about attacks in the area dampens our morale. Every bomb explosion is a setback for me psychologically and otherwise.
We will need to carry out security risk assessment and we are currently in the process of doing it. – Culled from Daily Trust.