oil search in the north appears to be fruitless
This cock and bull narrative of the endless search for oil in the North-East by the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been offered up to the gullible public, mainly targeting our “brothers” in the North who have been made to believe that they have no future without crude oil. Sorry for them.
Now, listen to this: “The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has confirmed that the search for crude oil in the North-East has commenced in earnest.”
Really? We have heard at least 10 variants of this report in the last two decades. Often, the Arewa Consultative Assembly or any of its offshoots berates the Federal Government, irrespective of who heads it, to intensify the search for oil in the north. The government then promises heaven on earth, allocates funds to the exploration arm of the NNPC to be spent by well-connected natives, millionaires in the catchment area. Things quieten down for a while until the next round of agitation. If anyone told you that he spent half a billion naira doing seismic survey inside Sambisa Forest, will you believe it? Yes, that is how we have been searching for oil in the north.
Now, let me review some very old comments I have put out on this topic.
The standard procedure is for the Department of Petroleum Resources to map out acreages, otherwise called exploration blocks. Some people may call them oil blocks. These are put out for bids. Using best practices, including scant geological information, statistics, political and other risk factors, interested organisations estimate the potential of the block. They then make a bid. After they may have won, the best they can get is an exploration licence. The granting of an oil mining licence becomes a possibility in the future. Meanwhile, the oil has to be found first.
Why has is then not occurred to all, especially northerners, that, none of the oil companies belonging to our northern behemoths, like SAPETRO to name just one, has ever put in a bid to search for oil IN THEIR OWN BACKYARDS? Strange, isn’t it? They prefer to hang on to the low hanging fruits of the Niger Delta, where proven oil fields are handed over as political patronage to a list of Nigerians, (naming them is not the purpose of this exercise).
Meanwhile, a young man from Ogoja who studied geophysics at the University of Ibadan is sent out with an NNPC team on a quixotic foray into Boko Haram-infested Chibokland, just to prove that the NNPC has not abandoned the North. This is a bad and dangerous lie. The oil majors, which have a million times more reliable data and estimating capabilities than the NNPC, have so far refused to touch the Nigerian North-East. Why then does the puny and incompetent NNPC think that it can do it, especially when everybody knows that 80 per cent of the budget would have been pilfered even before the crew sets out from Lagos, Benin or wherever? Where else in Nigeria is the NNPC actively involved in searching for oil? Handling proven marginal fields farmed out to it has to date been quite an undertaking.
It is most insensitive, but now normal to obtain huge foreign loans in the name of WE THE PEOPLE, to be applied for ONLY projects in the North. Hence, it may now seem moot raising the issue of the Federal Government i.e. the NNPC, preferentially spending our scarce resources pretending to be searching for oil in the North. Irrespective of where one stands on the many sides of our social, economic and political fault lines, there are many lessons to be learnt from the unending drama of the search for oil in the North.
Finally, I sincerely wish that oil will be found in the North. That will be when the future will catch up with our northern brothers. We have been wailing about the negative impact of their children not going to school following the injunctions of the “Boko-Haramites”. I just can’t see my grandchildren taking up the slack, risking life and limb. God forbid!