16 MONTHS AFTER FLAG-OFF, FG HALTS KOMANI OIL DRILLING IN BAUCHI

Residents allege exploration equipment moved to Lake Chad, Nasarawa | NNPCL, Ministry keep mum | We have provided enabling environment for smooth operation – Bauchi Govt | Ebenyi- A Well drilling ongoing in Nasarawa

Exploration of crude oil exploration activities at the Kolmani Oil Field has become dormant 16 months after a presidential inauguration of exploration activities on the site.
LEADERSHIP reports that at the twilight of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, precisely in November 2022, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, in partnership with New Nigeria Development Company, started drilling crude oil at two oil blocks in Kolmani Oil Field, OPL809 and OPL810 accordingly.

Similarly, the projection of crude oil deposits in Kolamani, which traversed both Bauchi and Gombe states, was pegged at about one billion barrels of crude oil deposit and about 500bcf. Exploration on the field was expected to last up to 2060.
The Kolmani oil blocks were projected to generate about 50,000 barrels of crude oil every day.
However, a resident of the Kolmani area who does not want to be identified said that drilling on the site was suspended since the presidential inauguration and nothing tangible has been done.

“About a year ago, we saw how NNPCL moved most of the drilling equipment to Nasarawa State but since then nothing has been going on here. Some of the equipment was taken to Lake Chad, leaving Kolmani with virtually nothing,” he emphasised.

Of the five oil wells in Kolmani, only about two were developed.
Similarly, a bridge linking Kolmani communities with the outside world collapsed due to the movement of heavy-duty machines.

“About a few days ago, personnel from Sterling Global were seen trying to fix the bridge which raised our hope that exploration activities may soon continue. They have fixed the pillars of the bridge and, as I speak with you, a crane can be sighted working to lift the beams of the bridge,” he said.
Regarding security provisions, the Kolmani Oil Field boosts proactive security measures. Teams of personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Nigerian Army protect the area.
Meanwhile, both the NNPCL and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources did not respond to enquiries about the abandonment of Kolmani oil exploration.

We Have Provided Enabling Environment For Smooth Operation – Bauchi Govt

Bauchi State Commissioner for Natural Resources, Bello Maiwada said Bauchi authorities have been engaging with relevant stakeholders at the federal government level to expedite crude oil exploration in Kolmani.
“Issues that concern crude oil exploration are matters in the exclusive list of powers of the federal government, as such we don’t have much to say about crude oil exploration.

“However, as a state, we are stakeholders in the process because we are the host community. Virtually, every move we are going to make will naturally be from this position,” he said.
The commissioner noted that while no significant progress has been made since the commencement of the drilling at Kolmani by former President Muhammadu Buhari, the Bauchi State Government has provided an enabling environment required for full-scale crude oil exploration.
“In terms of security, personnel of the company responsible for developing the field can work and move freely in the area without fear for their safety and that of their equipment because adequate security measures have been put in place.

“Similarly, the Bauchi State Government has started an oil and gas academy in Alkaleri which is the first of its kind in Northern Nigeria, to train skilled manpower critical to crude oil exploration.
“As we speak, about 300 students were admitted for some courses at the temporary site of the academy domiciled at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic. Other programmes are expected to commence as soon as possible,” the commissioner said.
He further said plans are underway to establish an Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone to further facilitate transactions related to oil and gas, adding that “quarters, parks security and companies will be invited to boost trading. A land has been secured for that purpose.”

Ebenyi-A Well Drilling Ongoing In Nasarawa
Drilling activities at the Ebenyi-A well by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in Obi local government area of Nasarawa State are ongoing, findings by LEADERSHIP confirmed.
This is despite initial hiccups as a result of the geological complexity of the selected drilling area, our correspondent learnt.
Former President Muhammadu Buhari had in March 2023 flagged off the Ebenyi A oil well, signaling the commencement of full exploration in the Middle Benue Trough.
The development came months after the group chief executive officer (GCEO) of NNPCL, Mr Mele Kyari, announced the possibility of crude in commercial quantity in Keana and Obi local government areas following years of high-impact exploration work in the trough.
Mr Kyari had said that the company began exploration activities in the state in 2010 and had technically found a petroleum environment in the state.
“We have seen a great potential for finding hydrocarbons in Nasarawa State and to confirm this, we are going to start drilling in March (2023).

“We are very optimistic that it will be a successful exercise. It will not end there, once you find oil, you do further work to develop it not just for the benefit of the community around it but for Nasarawa State and the country,” he had explained.
However, sources close to the operation told LEADERSHIP in confidence that the complex geology of the area made drilling difficult at the initial stage, stalling the anticipated progress.

“The surface and immediate sub-surface geology of the Obi area is made up of very thick dark shales and coals of the Awgu Formation. Beneath this Awgu Formation is another very thick shale of the Ezeaku Formation.
“Drilling through these thick units of shales (clays) is not an easy task in any drilling campaign. I believe the NNPC had anticipated that from seismic and geological sections but I am not sure they knew it would be so herculean and overwhelming,” he explained.
The anomaly, it was learnt, affected the drilling rigs and other equipment several times even before progress could reach 1, 500 metres.

Despite the setback, the Company is said to be making progress and the prospect for commercial discovery is very high.
Already some huge volumes of hydrocarbon gas, it was gathered, have been flared from the well even before drilling hit 1,000 metres, a situation which experts said is a veritable sign.
“Although the flared gases could just be coalbed gas or shale-held tight gas at that shallow level, they could also be associated gas leaking from the main hydrocarbon kitchen. It could take another three months to reach this kitchen,” the source said.

A youth leader in the area, Mr. Emmanuel Ogosi, told our correspondent that the arrival of the team and the drilling activities had greatly raised the expectations of the people of a more prosperous future.
He said some of the youths had been productively engaged and doing menial jobs at the site, even as he said the work had spurred commercial activities around the area.
A member of the host community committee, Abdullahi Ladan Adowe, confirmed that drilling is in progress at the site.

He said the community and the state government had been cooperating and rendering necessary assistance to the team to ease their operation.
Our correspondent reports that Governor Abdullahi Sule had been enthusiastic about the project.
He told journalists that the commencement of drilling work was a dream come true for him as the leader of the state, noting that part of his excitement is the fact that Nasarawa youths were being engaged by the company.
He said, “When we went to the site today, my excitement was to see that on top of that (oil) rig are youths from Nasarawa State that have been employed already by the company.

“They are not just gaining employment; they are gaining experience. These are people who have never seen an oil and gas operation before. Today, they are working on a rig. So, we are getting them trained, they are getting the experience and we are getting the advantage of the economic empowerment that is there,” he said.
His senior special assistant on public affairs, Mr Peter Ahemba, told LEADERSHIP on Sunday that the state government was pleased with progress of work at the site, and that Nasarawa will soon join the league of oil-producing states.

Nuhu Obaje, the NNPC Chair Professor in Basinal Studies at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai and a leading researcher in the trough, told our correspondent that with the expected commercial discovery of crude, investors will invade the state to develop Ebenyi-A field while exploring other prospects that exist collaterally in the basin, which stretches to other states in the region.
“Apart from derivation that will accrue to Nasarawa State, huge employment opportunities and other positive socio-economic benefits would accrue to Nigerians and states in the region, because 80% of Nigerian prospects are full of gas and some little oil, discoveries here and other areas like in the Gongola Basin with Kolmani River will provide more feeds and inlets into the AKK pipeline.

“The Nigerian government through NUPRC and the NNPC Ltd looks set to change the economic fortunes of many Nigerian geopolitical states through her inland basins exploration programme. NNPC may not be able to handle all the basins at one swoop, but for now it has made success in the Gongola Basin of the Upper Benue Trough.

“It is currently almost at commercial discovery in the Middle Benue Trough and the Chad Basin. It is determined to move in next to the Bida Basin and follow it into the Sokoto Basin. Despite some commercial successes made by some independent players in the Anambra and Dahomey Basins, I am aware that NNPC will move in there to unravel more prospects in the open acreages in those basins to boost investors’ confidence,” he explained.

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