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Buhari flags off oil drill in Gongola Basin

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Says oil and gas still critical to Nigeria

SUNDAY ODE , Abuja

The long awaited dream of oil and gas exploration in the northern part of Nigeria became a reality on Saturday as President Muhammadu Buhari i flagged off the spud-in of Kolmani River-II Well in Gongola Basin of Upper Benue Trough.

Despite finding 146ft of hydrocarbon sand in Kolmani River-1 Well prospect estimated to contain about 33BCF of gas in the 90s the International Oil Companies (IOCs) failed to investigate deep targets and left the region on the excuse of non-commercial quantity find.

However, President Buhari on assumption of office directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to prioritize exploration efforts in the frontier basins in order to increase the national oil and gas reserves base and production.

Though the NNPC failed to disclose the production estimate of Kolmani II, the agency said it would fulfill the nation’s ambition of attaining national oil reserves of 40 billion barrels of crude oil and production to three billion barrels per day by 2025.

Performing the flag off ceremony, President Buhari avowed that in spite of the diversification of the nation’s economy by his administration as well as the dwindling oil price at the international market, the commodity was still essential to the country’s economic .survival.

“Oil and Gas remains critical to the Nigerian economy of today and the future. It remains key to the successful implementation of our budget at all levels of Government.”The golden era of high oil prices may not be here now but Oil and Gas resources still remain the most immediate and practical keys to our aggressive efforts at diversifying the economy.

“As important as it is to ensure that other critical sectors of the economy are supported to grow and contribute more to the Nation’s economy, we still need a virile Oil and Gas Industry to take care of the challenges of the moment and to invest for the future,” he said.The President described the event as remarkable, saying that it represented a promise kept by his administration.

Buhari said the next level was to ensure a sustained effort in oil exploration in all the frontier basins in the country, adding that a country with balanced resources distribution was imperative in the quest for industrialization

He said: “When we came on board in May 2015, we promised to focus on three cardinal areas of security, economy and the fight against corruption.”We have worked hard to fulfill our promises and have succeeded in laying the foundation for a strong, virile and prosperous Nigeria through the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

“A key execution priority of the ERGP is ensuring National energy sufficiency and this cannot be achieved through hydrocarbon resources from the conventional basins alone. Therefore, exploration in our frontier basins is a national imperative and a core policy thrust that must be sustained.

“Therefore, it is on this note that I directed the NNPC to aggressively intensify its exploration campaign in the Inland Basins with a view to discovering new hydrocarbon reserves that will boost Oil and Gas production and extend economic benefits to the people within those basins and the Nation at large.

“Today is quite significant to our country. It is not only a reflection of our vision and aspiration for this sector but it is a landmark of a promise kept by this administration to the Nigerian people.

“Our Next Level is to ensure that exploration efforts in all our frontier Basins namely Chad Basin, Gongola Basin, Anambra Basin, Sokoto Basin, Dahomey Basin, Bida Basin and Benue Trough are intensified to usher in prospects for more prosperous Nigeria.

A new Nigeria with balanced resources distribution, diverse economic activities and sustained energy and security as we build the virile and industrialized economy to catch up with the 21st century expectations.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, said the project was evidence of commitment by the Buhari administration to expand the hydrocarbons reserve base of the country.

He also expressed the readiness of the NNPC to resume oil exploration in the Chad basin as soon as the military gave the go-ahead in view of the insurgency activities in the area.

Baru,however, appealed for patience, noting that oil exploration anywhere in the would required a lot of time.

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