Russia battle US, UK for hydrocarbon exploration in Niger State

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By Samuel Ibiyemi

Indications have emerged that investors from Russia are battling with United States and the United Kingdom  ( UK)  investors in the bid to lead  exploration and development of hydrocarbon deposits in Bida Basin of Niger State. This is expected to fast-track the drive by Governor Sani Bello in transforming Niger State from agricultural based economy to an oil producing state.

Nigerian NewsDirect gathered at the ongoing Nigerian International Petroleum Summit ( NIPS) that  following the interest and competition for exploration in Niger State, the  Commissioner for Mineral Resources Hon Ramatu Yar’Adua has opened up communication with  these  foreign investors for a suitable win-win exploration programme needed to uplift the economy of Niger State. One of the arrangements put in place is the plan  by the commissioner in collaboration with the consultant-Whitepage International Concept Limited to visit these prospective investors with a view of initiating the process of  the best joint venture ( JV) arrangement.

“ The engagement of International consultant by Niger State for hydrocarbon exploration is to ensure that the state government becomes an equity holder in oil blocks to be allocated in the state instead of craving for mere 13 per cent  oil revenue derivation,” a source said.

However, from a report released by the government in collaboration with the consultant, negotiations for 3D/4D seismic data acquisition have commenced and in process.

The report reveals that the intention of the Niger State government is not only to become an oil producing state, but also to eventually own oil blocks/wells through the state’s Special Purpose Vehicle ( SPV))- Midland Petroleum Resources, when hydrocarbon deposits are discovered in commercial quantity.

The report further explains  that the Commissioner for mineral resources in Niger State is currently reviewing the preliminary reports and timeline for the project . The commissioner is also working vigorously according to the report to ascertain in the shortest possible time, the presence of hydrocarbon in commercial quantity in Bida Basin.

Information in the report discloses  that Whitepage has been conducting surveys and preliminary  works, as well as drilling of a number of shallow test wells ( at least 200 meters) at various locations of the Bida basin to provide better information of the petroleum system.

The report  explains that WPIC is currently analyzing the samples collected from the shallow well drilling and will submit these results to the Ministry of mineral resources.

However, a visit to the exhibition stand of Whitepage at the ongoing NIPS in Abuja were found  samples of hydrocarbon which attracted several visitors including oil and gas  correspondents and experts  from various countries.

Industry analysts said that the effort of Niger State government will help Nigeria to increase reserves and production output needed to raise the country’s quota being allocated by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC). The discovery of hydrocarbon in commercial quantities according to the analysts will further attract International Oil Companies ( IOCs) to support the exploration efforts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) several years after their withdrawal from the Benue Through and the Chad Basin.

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