In their bid to join the oil-producing states in the country, Niger State government has stepped up action in the search for oil in the Bida Basin. The Bida Basin, otherwise known as the Mid-Niger Basin or the Nupe Basin, is a NW-SE trending intracratonic sedimentary basin extending from Kontagora in Niger State to areas slightly beyond Lokoja in the South. Its total length is estimated at 400km, which tapers to less than 60km at Dekina. The largest portion of the basin (the northern part), which occurs in the southern half of Niger State, constitutes the study area of prospecting for hydrocarbon deposits.
According to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who has included energy as one of his core cardinal programmes, the inclusion of the Bida Basin in the renewed search for hydrocarbon deposits would be a giant move that will step up the economic potential of not only Niger State but also the country as a whole. Based on that, the search for oil and hydrocarbon in the Bida Basin has become a major priority of his administration.
In order to actualise the dream, the Niger State government has engaged the services of consultants, Whitepage International Concept Limited (WPIC), a leading international company that specialises in oil and gas development services, environmental policy support and management, to fast-track the search in the Bida Basin. WPIC, along with affiliate investment groups and financiers, provide an ideal structure in oil and gas development.
Also, as part of the state governor’s effort towards ensuring the actualisation of the Bida Basin project, which is dear to him, as one of his cardinal projects, he appointed Hajia Ramatu Mohammed Yar’Adua, an investment expert, as the Commissioner for Mineral Resources, to help drive the project.
Interestingly, Niger State, in collaboration with Whitepage Concept, plans to build a modular refinery in the state to help evacuate the crude. As a visionary leader who wants the best for the state, Bello feels that, with the discovery of oil in the state, it will not only shore up the revenue of the state, but also facilitate his other projects as well as create employment for his people.
Indeed, prior to the coming into power of the present administration in Niger State, the Bida Basin project was a major issue only on the pages of newspapers. On assumption of office, the governor set up a high-powered technical team and committee to work with Whitepage, to carry out research on hydrocarbon occurrence in the Bida Basin. It was an independent research different from the one NNPC did in collaboration with Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State. The idea is that, at the end of the day, both analysis and reports from Whitepage and IBB University will be presented to NNPC.
The Federal Government, under the present administration, had given a fresh mandate to the NNPC to shore up the revenue of the country in the oil sector through exploration in the country’s frontier basins. The marching orders by government to NNPC came almost 30 years after past governments had spent millions of dollars in search of oil in the northern region without commensurate result. The group managing director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, had also re-iterated that the government was stepping up measures in the search for crude oil in the Chad Basin and other parts of the inland sedimentary basin. According to him, the renewed oil and gas exploration in these basins was part of strategies to shore up the country’s crude oil and gas reserve base.
“Moreover, the country’s plan to increase its oil reserves to 40 billion barrels by 2020 may be a mirage, if the downward trend in locating new finds in the country is not curtailed,” Baru further stated.