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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday flagged off the first crude oil drilling project in northern Nigeria, on the boundary of Bauchi and Gombe States.

In October 2019 the NNPC announced the discovery of hydrocarbon deposits in the Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the Northeastern region of Nigeria.

The commercial quantity discovery was the first in the region after several crude oil explorations in the Upper Benue Trough, UBT.

The oilfield will be developed by Sterling Global Oil, New Nigeria Development Commission (NNDC) and NNPC Ltd.

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The discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities in the Gongola Basin, according to NNPC, will attract foreign investment, generate employment for people to earn income and increase government revenues.

During the flag-off in Bauchi on Tuesday, Buhari said the successful discovery of the Kolmani Oil and Gas field by NNPC and her partners has finally broken a decadeslong jinx.

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“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,” Buhari said.

“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,” he said.

President Buhari noted that considering the landlocked location and the huge capital requirement, the economics of the project is a challenging proposition.

“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,” he said.

According to him, this will surely be a reference subject for favourable discussion in the industry as we pursue the energy transition program that will culminate in our country achieving Net-Zero position 1 by the year 2060.

“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,” he said.

He urged the NNPC Ltd, NNDC, and their Strategic partners to ensure all lessons learnt from our years of experience as an oil-producing nation are utilized to ensure harmonious relationships with the local communities.

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