The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced a significant oil find in the lake Chad area in North East Nigeria based on analysis of recent seismic 3D data generated from the Chad Basin.

Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, former Group Managing Director, NNPC, now Minister of State for Petroleum Resources stated recently that “there are signs from the latest 3D seismic studies that oil may well be very close to being found now in Lake Chad after very many years of trials. I think that this is very key.  It is key both for the geographical balancing of oil production and it is also very key for the purpose of refinery placement in the North in terms of access to crude. I am optimistic that by the end of the year we should be able to announce something major on this”

This is not the first time the corporation would be announcing this. Previous investigations had revealed that the NNPC acquired 370 square kilometers of seismic data between January and May 2010 with a target to achieve 530 square kilometers by December 31, 2010. The total volume earmarked for acquisition at the Chad Basin operations of the NNPC is 3,550 square kilometers under a 12-phased program, the statistics revealed.

Of the 12-phased 3D seismic data acquisition program, Phase 5 covering 252 square kilometers has been concluded. Under Phase 1 onto Phase 5, a total of 1,437 square kilometers of seismic data has been acquired with 1,096 square kilometers of seismic data duly processed and ready for interpretation but there has been no prospect for crude oil discovery.

NNPC also engaged Chinese investors, who discovered oil in the neighboring Niger and Chad in the crude exploration in the Chad and Sokoto basins. But a source in one of the international oil companies maintained that the search for oil in the Chad Basin would not yield any positive results, as “the basin is too young to contain hydrocarbons”. Crude oil was discovered in the Chad Republic because the basin is deeper in the area but very shallow in the Nigerian side. The Nigerian side does not have the required temperature and pressure to form oil because it is shallow. That is why all the exploration work there is done by the NNPC because no oil company will go there to waste money. The government knows that but the NNPC has to remain there because of politics”, he said.

NNPC had lost millions of dollars in its search for crude oil in the Chad Basin, without any strong indications that the efforts would yield positive results. The corporation has commenced exploratory activities in the basin again. Its initial efforts at drilling 23 exploratory wells failed.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in April said that his administration would focus on re-activating the Lake Chad in addition to deploying resources to resume vigorous search for oil along the Chad Basin in parts of Borno State.

The Chad Basin is estimated to have oil reserve of 2.32 billion barrels of oil and 14.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil and gas are flowing underground, across the seven countries that share the Lake Chad Basin: Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Sudan, Algeria and Central African Republic.

Oluchi Ugboaja
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