Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

FG mute on untapped oil wells in S’East, increases search in North

A narrative that is giving experts and many Nigerians headache to explain is playing out on why the federal government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is wasting scare resources including humans searching for oil deposits in the northern part of the country while several confirmed deposits had been laying untapped in many parts of Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu States in South East.

The NNPC had last week said as part of strategies to shore up the nation’s crude oil reserve base, it has announced that it was on target with respect to reinvigorating exploratory activities in the seven hydrocarbon basins across the country including Chad, Benue Trough, Benin, Sokoto and Bida. There are also commercial quantity in Anambra and some parts of Enugu State.

Explaining the corporation’s efforts to increase the tempo of exploratory activities in the industry, Baru stated that modalities were on to open up all the basins in the country to prospective investors.

Sokoto oil
Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, welcoming the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal in Abuja, during the visit to remind NNPC for appeals to search for oil in North West. Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Geidam also paid similar visit last week.

In a statement by the NNPC spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, Baru was quoted as saying that “We are on target and we are looking at the prospective of the whole basins of the Niger Delta, Chad, Anambra, Benue Trough, Benin, Sokoto and Bida. We are focused on delivering on these basins in line with our mandate.”

He said preliminary exploratory activities had indicated some signs of hydrocarbon in eastern Yobe of the Chad Basin, adding that once the corporation received security clearance, the 3D seismic data acquisition in the area would continue as scheduled.

Baru noted that modern technology would be deployed in the exploration of the Yobe section of the Chad Basin, similar to that deployed in the Borno side of the Chad Basin.

But an ironical puzzle that had been hard to solve is why so many parts of the South East where oil had been confirmed in commercial quantity are yet to get federal government’s attention as scare resources are being spent searching for what is seamlessly available in other parts.

Business Hilights recent findings show that colonial documents and evidences prove that oil was first found in Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu states, about 83 years ago, but government refuses to acknowledge this nor explore the natural resource.

Further findings show that Edda oil field was discovered more than 20 years before oil was found in Oloibori, in the Niger Delta, which is prided as the first discovery in the country. According to documentary evidence, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) knows this, but the corporation has not made much efforts to explore the oil ever since.

Visits to Edda community in Ebonyi State revealed that indigenes are praying daily for NNPC to go back to its archives and spot where it documented that their community has oil waiting begging exploration and not begging for ‘search’.

Besides, to the natives of Anam clan in Anambra State, the riverine communities, it’s not news that there is crude oil in their domain. What seems to be news is that government had not given adequate attention to exploring the oil.

Indigenes attest that the Anam oil find became a serious issue in about 2004 when rumours were rife that the Orient Petrochemical Company was to build a petrochemical plant in Otuocha to tap the resource.

That was in the wake of the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s liberalisation of oil refining in the country. Sometime after, nothing was heard, even though it had become public knowledge that the natural gas deposit in Anam could compare favourably with that in the Niger Delta.

Edda Oil Field
Edda Oil Field, Ebonyi State discovered far back in 1928, but was abandoned, thus giving Oloibiri in Bayelsa the credit of first oil well in 1957.

In Enugu State, Awgu community will ever remain salutary to the federal government and the NNPC should they wake up one morning and hear that exploration activities are starting.

Still in Enugu, communities like Isi Uzo, Uzo Uwani and Eha Ndiagu are confirmed of having earth crusts embedded with hydrocarbons underneath.

A startling detail bumped upon in the course of this investigation showed that the ‘Edda oil fields (Ebonyi)’ has a file well documented with indisputable facts of the oil discovery.

The file: No. OG/2003, Subject: Discovery of Oil in Afikpo Division by Mr. L.H. Shelton, then D.O (Divisional Officer of the British colonial government) was deposited at the Archives on January 15, 1956. This period of filing coincides with the second oil find in Edda by Shell BPC at another location. While the first find was in Nguzu, the second was at Ezi Edda.

The oil confirmation landmarks can still be found today around the Orienta Primary School, Ezi-Edda and Etiti Secondary School in present day Ebonyi State.

Our correspondent gathered that a laboratory result on the Edda oil sample from the Imperial Institute, London, gave the following: “The sample, which is the subject matter of this report was sent to the Imperial Institute by the director of geological survey of Nigeria and referred to in his letter 523/51 of 26th October, 1928. Results of examination of the sample, which measured about 650c.c, was contained in two bottles, consisted of reddish-brown thick oil. Free from objectionable odour, containing a little water together with some earthy sediments. The mixed samples gave the following results on examination: Specific gravity of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) -0.928.

Viscosity-(Redwood), ime of flow of 50cc at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celcius)…900 seconds.”

The result further noted thus: Flash Point: (Pensky Martens closed test) 113 degrees Celsius. Calorific Value: 10615 calories or 19107 British Thermal Units. Sulphur, S: …0.18 per cent. Distillation by the Engler method gave the following: Only a trace of paraffin wax was present in the sample. The above results show that the sample bears considerable resemblance to the one from Nigeria previously examined here (see imperial Institute report M. 3417 dated July 1928)

It said: “It will be seen that the quantity of low boiling volatile hydrocarbon is very small, hence the flash point is high. Oil of this quality represented by the present sample if freed from sediment and water, could be used as fuel oil as it has satisfactory calorific value and its sulphur content is low.”

The report here shows there were two tests and results from oil obtained from Edda. Both gave results that the sample was of good and high grade crude oil.

Whereas Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu locals query why government has not done the needful over the years, GMD of NNPC last week said “We are on target and we are looking at the prospective of the whole basins of the Niger Delta, Chad, Anambra, Benue Trough, Benin, Sokoto and Bida. We are focused on delivering on these basins in line with our mandate.”

He said preliminary exploratory activities had indicated some signs of hydrocarbon in eastern Yobe of the Chad Basin, adding that once the corporation received security clearance, the 3D seismic data acquisition in the area would continue as scheduled.

Baru noted that modern technology would be deployed in the exploration of the Yobe section of the Chad Basin, similar to that deployed in the Borno side of the Chad Basin.

Expressing happiness during his recent visit to the NNPC, Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Geidam told Baru that “My visit is a follow-up to our request on exploration of oil in the Yobe section of the Chad Basin. The assurance, which you gave that the exploration for hydrocarbon deposits in part of Yobe State was being considered, has reinforced our resolve to work with you on diversifying the sources of the national economy for improved revenue generation”.

Geidam said his visit was informed by the commitment of the government to increase Nigeria’s oil reserves through exploration of oil and gas in the Chad Basin, adding that the policy direction of the Federal Government was of interest to the state because the basin covers a large area, including Yobe State.