At the start of 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari gave orders to the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, to explore oil in the northern region especially in Chad Basin and Kolamini River.
The order raised hope, especially in the North, in view of the fact that the President meant to walk the talk on the decades old issue that was given little attention by successive administrations.
As of October 2016, there was an update from NNPC that the Lake Chad Basin of Northern Nigeria has prospects of oil.
The facts showed that a total of 23 oil wells have already been drilled by prospecting oil companies that have engaged in oil exploration in the North in the past 30 years. It is gladdening that 21 oil wells among the 23 have full prospects of oil in commercial quantity.
This is really heart-warming in the sense that a balance between the North and South in oil production (or balance in contribution to the nation’s economy) will bring stability to the nation and assuage the protracted restiveness in the Niger Delta region. My hope is that a lot should be done to erase the vestige of Boko Haram terrorism in the North East so that the nation would not be dragged back to square one. A combination oil wealth and terrorism is a terrible mismatch that could consume the nation. So government must act fast in this regard, much as it redoubles efforts in the oil exploration.
I learnt about Dr.Baru’s giant strides in ensuring accountability, transparent operations and commitment to raising oil production when I had a chat with his Technical Assistant on Communications Mr. AliyuAbubakar recently. I was amazed when he said the nation’s daily oil production has now risen to about over 2 million barrels per day. Quite alright it was even beyond that level in the past few years, but the heightened restiveness in the Niger Delta has greatly accounted for the setback. One cannot but thank the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, for his commitment to peace in the region.
But there is another fear of oil deflation. When you multiply the two million oil production per day to the nation’s current oil reserves of about 35 billion barrels, you will see that it can only last for about 40 years – that is, if no reserves are added. Also consider the nation’s current gas reserves of 187Tcf and at the current level of production of 8Bscfd, Nigeria’s gas reserves will last for about 65 years – that is, if no reserves are added. By the year 2020, Nigeria’s gas demand forecast for both domestic and export would experience a rapid growth to 15bscfd. This therefore means that current reserves level can only sustain such a quantum of demand for 35 years.
Nigeria should not cease to exist within this generation. We have to look beyond our time to build a nation for a generation yet unborn. We must all support the President for taking this far-reaching solution to peace in the Niger Delta region.
This course of exploration of oil and gas would help the nation and its citizens to not only increase the nation’s oil and gas reserves but also safeguard our national assets, reduce oil pollution, spillage, create employment opportunities and bring about social welfare to the citizens.
NNPC should also ensure that the life of people are not put in danger, practical strategies should also be adopted so as to prevent oil spillage, derivation fund for the host communities should be effectively and efficiently utilized, society welfare, laws on oil spillage, environmental impact assessment act, etc ought to also be implemented.