Nigeria does have oil in the north

Feb 14, 2002 01:00 AM

The curtain has been drawn on the prospect of crude oil production in the North of Nigeria, following the declaration by prospecting companies that there is no oil in that part of the country. The reports which were based on the comments of the immediate past chairman and managing director of ChevronTexaco, Mr Ray Wilcox, claimed that the multinational oil companies namely Shell, ExxonMobil, Agip, ChevronTexaco and TotalFinaElf, which began drilling in the Benue Trough (covering the six north eastern states) in 1994, have started to withdraw following strings of poor results, from their drilling efforts.
Incidentally, the sentiments expressed in these reports are not new. Only last year, an underhand attempt was made by some elements in the corridors of power at the federal level to put a stop to oil exploration in the Benue Trough. The dutiful intervention of the Senate, the upper chamber in the National Assembly, somewhat arrested that plan.

The federal government, through the NNPC, came out forcefully to make the point that oil explorations in the North have not ceased. On July 3, 2001, the NNPC was quoted as saying that the search for oil in the Northern part of the county has not ended, contrary to speculations in some quarters that the organisation had stopped its search for the black gold in the Benue Trough and the Chad Basin.
According to the group managing director of NNPC, Mr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, the NNPC "had only temporarily stopped seismic activities in the north, to appraise the reports gathered so far in the search for oil, and seek a way of moving forward. The search continues. We have accumulated so much data that we decided to group them together and do real work on how to move forward."
"Advertisements have gone to consultants to do the interrogations for us and I assure you that the best would be done in the search for crude oil in the Benue Trough and Chad Basin. And most importantly, as a geologist, I will not abandon a potential field".

Today, it is a fact that the NNPC has not come up with any new information contradicting its earlier position on the matter of oil exploration activities in the North. From the position of the NNPC on the matter, it is clear that oil exploration in the North has not ended. In fact, since it is the federal government that formulates the oil policy which guides the activities of oil prospecting companies in Nigeria, it is safe to conclude that the search for crude oil in the North has not ceased.
Even if ChevronTexaco has relinquished its blocs in the Benue Trough and Chad Basin, that does not in any way mean that oil exploration in the North would not continue. After all, there are other oil prospecting companies in the North apart from ChevronTexaco, and they have not come out to say anything negative about their activities in the area.

Who does not know that oil production endeavours in the North-Eastern part of the country will positively impact on the economic development of the Nigerian people? However, the truth is that the results of the exploration in the North have been very encouraging. At least, the presence of hydrocarbon -- a major component of crude oil -- has been established in the Benue Trough, especially in the Futuk and Kolmani River areas of Bauchi South Senatorial District. This definitely accounts for why the position of the NNPC on oil exploration in the North is that of continuation rather than cessation.
The truth therefore is that until the federal government, through the NNPC or the Department of Petroleum Resources, comes up with an informed pronouncement on the cessation of oil exploration in the Benue Trough and the Chad Basin, the comments of people like the immediate past managing director of ChevronTexaco on the matter would remain uninformed and very irrelevant distractions.

Oil exploration is a painstaking and tedious endeavour that takes a very long time to yield fruitful result. In the history of oil exploration in the world, it is only in very few places that crude oil was struck in commercial quantity in less than six years of dutiful prospecting. It is therefore premature to conclude, as Mr. Wilcox seems to suggest, that crude oil prospecting in the Benue Trough and Chad Basin has only yielded poor results and therefore should be discontinued.
The truth therefore is that until the federal government, through the NNPC or the Department of Petroleum Resources, comes up with an informed pronouncement on the cessation of oil exploration in the Benue Trough and the Chad Basin, the comments of people like the immediate past managing director of ChevronTexaco on the matter would remain as uninformed and very irrelevant distractions.

Source: Daily Trust/All Africa Global Media
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