President Muhammadu Buhari signalled the start of the first crude oil drilling operation in northern Nigeria on Tuesday, on the border of Bauchi and Gombe states. The Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the northeastern region of the country, was where the NNPC reported in October 2019 that hydrocarbon resources had been found.

After repeated attempts to find crude oil in the Upper Benue Trough, the commercial quantity discovery was the first in the area. Sterling Global Oil, the New Nigeria Development Commission (NNDC), and NNPC Ltd. will develop the oilfield.

President Buhari said that the project’s economics are a difficult proposition given its landlocked location and substantial capital requirement.

He noted that as Nigeria moves forward with the energy transition programme that will result in the country reaching Net-Zero position 1 by the year 2060, this will undoubtedly be a reference topic for positive debate in the sector.

To ensure harmonious relationships with the local communities, he urged the NNPC Ltd., NNDC, and their Strategic Partners to make sure all lessons learned from our years of experience as an oil-producing nation are applied. According to NNPC, the commercial-scale discovery of oil and gas in the Gongola Basin will draw in foreign investment, create jobs for people to earn a living, and boost tax collections.

Excerpts from the President’s speech:

“This is indeed significant considering that efforts to find commercial oil and gas outside the established Niger Delta Basin were attempted for many years without the desired outcomes.”

“This discovery had emanated from our charge to the NNPC to re-strategize and expand its oil and gas exploration footprints to the frontier basins of Anambra, Dahomey, Sokoto, Benue trough, Chad and Bida Basins. Similar activities across the other basins are currently actively ongoing.”

“We are pleased with the current discovery of over 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion cubic feet of gas within the Kolmani area and the huge potential for more deposits as we intensify exploration efforts.”

“As a fully integrated in-situ development project comprising upstream production, oil refining, power generation and fertilizer, the project promises many benefits for the nation. This includes but is not limited to Energy Security, Financial Security, Food security as well as overall socio-economic development for the country.”

“Consequently, from the onset, I instructed NNPC Limited to utilize and leverage their vast asset portfolio across all corridors of its operations to de-risk the project to attract the much-needed investment. I have directed NNPC to continue along these lines.”

“It is therefore to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able to attract investment of over USD 3 billion to this project.”

“I have engaged the Governors of Bauchi and Gombe States, and both have given me assurances of their unwavering commitment and willingness to ensure support and cooperation in these localities as this activity affects the local populations.”