An estimated $2.5 billion will be spent by the Nigerian government, in its latest efforts at discovering crude oil in the Chad Basin.
This is a jump from the initial $2 billion proposed by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the programme five years ago when it claimed it was expecting successes on the project.
President Muhammadu Buhari has already re-directed the Corporation to intensify its search of the liquid gold in the area, which had in the past 10 years suffered some setbacks.
Most reports from the exploring oil firms talk of failure to hit crude “within the range of profitability.”
But between 2011 and 2013 the Nigerian government spent $240 million to facilitate oil and gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin and other northern hydrocarbon basins, including the Benue Trough, Bida Basin and the Sokoto-Rima Basin in northern Nigeria, but that money went down the drain as it turned in poor results.
From the late 70s into the early 90s extensive surface geological exploration was differently carried out by a group of largely French geologists sponsored by Total (then Elf-Aquitaine), Shell, ExxonMobil with limited result.
This was suspended until in 2000 when Agip, Chevron and Total began resumed drilling operations in the area covering Benue trough on a non-commercial basis.
It was learnt that earlier reports of gas discoveries in one well by Chevron later turned out to be unsuccessful leading to the suspension of the deal.
Experts, who have been querying the exercise, said it was being done to appease the sentiment of any government that could spend the amount for it, comparing the successes that is trailing all oil blocks in the Niger Delta, they termed the effort a mere waste
The international oil companies had, after the last major attempt at getting oil in the basin in 2005, declined to continue, citing millennium result compared with the amount spent by NNPC so far.
The World Bank in 2009 announced that it would no longer support any country in the Chad basin: Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun in oil exploration attempt.
Even Chad, which in the earliest stages signed oil exploitation contracts with some international firms, reported a negative effect on the population and environment.
The development called for, an independent review of the land acquisition by Esso Chad (an affiliate of ExxonMobil) in 2007.
Many are worried that the renewed search for crude in the Chad basin by the Buhari administration may go the way of previous ones, and the resources become another waste.
By Emma Eke…
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