NNPC loses millions of dollars on crude oil exploration in Chad Basin as insurgency hampers activities

By The Citizen

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has lost millions of dollars in its fruitless search for crude oil in the Chad Basin, without any strong indications that the efforts, which have been described as 'political' would yield positive results, THISDAY's investigations have revealed.

Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, where the Chad Basin is located, has also disrupted exploratory activities in the area THISDAY gathered that the NNPC commenced exploratory activities in the Basin, after its initial efforts that led to the drilling of 23 abandoned exploratory wells failed.

Six of the 23 abandoned wells, it was learnt, were located few kilometres north of the palace of the late Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Mustapha Umar El-Kanemi in Gajiganna.

The search, which has been described as a political decision, rather than an economic decision, is hinged on the fact that oil was discovered in bordering regions of Chad , Niger and Cameroon.

But a top geophysicist with one of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) told THISDAY at the weekend that the search for oil in the Chad Basin would not yield any positive results, as 'the basin is too young to contain hydrocarbons'.

'Chad 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.

THISDAY gathered that the acquisition of 3-Dimensional seismic data, which was being carried out by the NNPC was said to have been disrupted by the Boko Haram insurgency at the project site at Kukawa near Lake Chad.

Spokesman for the Corporation, Mr. Ohi Alegbe did not respond to THISDAY enquiry on when the corporation would resume exploration activities in the area.

But statistics obtained by THISDAY showed that the NNPC acquired 370 square kilometres of seismic data between January and May 2010 with a target to achieve 530 square kilometres by December 31, 2010.

The total volume earmarked for acquisition at the Chad Basin operations of the NNPC is 3,550 square kilometres under a 12-phased programme, the statistics revealed.

Of the 12 phased 3D seismic data acquisition programme, Phase 5 covering 252 Square Kilometres has been concluded.

Under Phase 1 to Phase 5, a total of 1,437 Square Kilometres of seismic data has been acquired with 1,096 Square Kilometres of seismic data duly processed and ready for interpretation but there has been no prospect for crude oil discovery.

Though the seismic data acquisition under Phase 6 covering 266 Square kilometres is supposed to have commenced at the project site at Kukawa near Lake Chad, THISDAY gathered that the Boko Haram insurgency is hampering the efforts.

NNPC had engaged Chinese investors, who discovered oil in the neighbouring Niger and Chad in the crude exploration in the Chad and Sokoto basins.

NNPC's  New Frontier Exploration Division is also working in consultation with a renowned Geophysicist and Consultant to the United Nations, Prof. Deborah Ajakaiye who is leading a team of Nigerian and foreign Geologists/Geophysicists in the search for hydrocarbon deposit in the Nigerian Frontier Inland Sedimentary Basins (NFISB) but all these efforts, which have gulped millions of dollars, have not yielded positive results.

The search is not limited to the Chad Basin alone but covers extensive inquest in the entire Nigerian Frontier Sedimentary Basins which includes- the Anambra, Bida , Dahomey , Gongola /Yola and the Sokoto Basins alongside the Middle/Lower Benue Trough. Thisday