Oil Drilling to Start Year End in Chad Basin, Says Kachikwu

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By Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, yesterday disclosed that Nigeria would start oil drilling activities in the Chad Basin by the last quarter of 2016.

Kachikwu in a statement from the Group General Manager, Public Affairs of the NNPC, Mallam Garuba Deen Muhammad, in Abuja, stated that seismic data acquisition activities had progressed reasonably before it was interrupted by insurgency in the North.

He said the federal government and the NNPC were committed to exploring oil and gas in the inland basins especially the Chad Basin and Benue Trough, adding that they have an unwavering commitment to the project.

According to him, the NNPC through its Frontier Exploration Services and Renewable Energy Division (FESRED) had progressed reasonably with seismic acquisition activities in the Chad Basin frontier area up until insurgency necessitated the suspension of operation there.

He said eight phases out of the planned 12-phase project to cover 3,550 square kilometres (sqkm) have been acquired by the date of suspension of operation on November 24, 2014.

“A total of 1, 962sqkm has been acquired and processed, interpretation is currently on-going at about 90 per cent completion, and drilling activities will commence by the last quarter of 2016,” said Kachikwu.

He further explained that the seismic activities were carried out with due regard to environmental protection and in accordance with international standards and best practices and was being handled by the Integrated Data Services Limited which is a subsidiary of the NNPC, and BGP, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).

Kachikwu noted that the purpose for oil exploration in the Chad Basin is to increase Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves, add value to the hydrocarbon potentials of the Nigerian inland basin, provide investment opportunities, boost the economy as well as create millions of new jobs.

“The decision to diversify our business portfolio is about all of us and about the future of our dear country, the vision is clear, and we are determined not to fail,” Kachikwu stated.

He thus invited the private sector and venture capitalists across the globe to partner with NNPC in planned Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to profitably harness the enormous energy resources in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has uncovered a suspected illegal facility used for the storage of petroleum products in Giri area of Abuja.

The discovery was made at the weekend, when a team of PPPRA officials, led by its Head of Corporate Services, Lanre Oladele, went on a monitoring exercise to check marketers compliance with government’s regulations on petrol sales in Abuja and environ.

Oladele said the unauthorised facility, owned by Sunmart Progress Nigeria Limited may have been converted to an illegal fuel dump, as various units of 51,000 litre capacity underground tanks were found at a location which appeared to be a truck repair park.

Although the tanks were empty at the time of the inspection, Oladele explained that it was illegal to store petroleum products, especially petrol, in large quantity outside of an approved petrol station.

The team declared the usage of the park as storage dump by the company was illegal as it does not have licence to store products outside its filling station located about a hundred metres away and warned that sanctions would be decided on the company after their report is submitted to Kachikwu who is also the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.

At Northbridge Energy located in Kwali, the team discovered that two trucks of 45,000 litres each of petrol were parked although the station was deserted and not selling products, even as attempt to locate the owners of the station was unsuccessful.

The PPPRA team also inspected the sale of products in other filling stations along Gwagwalada/Lokoja Expressway, Asokoro extension and Area 11 parts of the city.

Oladele however told journalists that the agency was satisfied with marketers’ level of compliance to regulations and pricing and assured consumers that the minister has put in place measures to ensure that adequate supply of petrol is sustained.

He said the agency would continue to monitor the progress being made in clearing out queues for petrol at filling stations.

“The minister established an inter-agency monitoring team which includes all the agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources including the DPR, NNPC, PPPRA and all other sister agencies.

“We have gone beyond Abuja to neighbouring states to see what obtains there. We have comprehensive report which we are going to turn in to government on what we actually saw and how the situation could be improved.

“So far, things have improved, we will make effort to sustain all of these. The minister has gone ahead to ensure that all agencies under the ministry are put on the alert such that what we have witnessed within the last one month does not repeat itself,” he said.