IF Nigeria weren’t a country whose fault lines have been exacerbated, the reported discovery and commencement of drilling of one billion barrel crude oilfield and 500 billion cubic feet of gas reserves in the Kolmani fields, should be cheering news for a country that depends almost exclusively on crude oil exports for its foreign exchange earnings.
This discovery, as reported by President Muhammadu Buhari who doubles as Minister of Petroleum Resources, might increase Nigeria’s crude oil reserve to 38 billion barrels, while morphing our erstwhile 180,000,000 million cubic foot gas fields considerably. It also brightens the prospects for other inland frontier oilfields such as the Anambra, Sokoto, Bida, and Lake Chad.
With the refinery, gas plants, power plants, and other industrial facilities already earmarked around this site, which is lodged between Bauchi and Gombe States, it could offer thousands, if not millions, of Nigerians gainful employment directly and indirectly. It might bring more revenue to the federal and concerned state governments, attract investment, extend our energy base, and bring petroleum products closer to people across the North.
Many experts, however, have continued to express their doubts as to the reality of this oil find. Issues of transparency, viability, regional agenda, and even security, continue to plague it.
While flagging off drilling about a fortnight ago, Buhari merely claimed that the project had attracted three billion dollar investments, without disclosing the details.
The involvement of the New Nigeria Development Company Ltd., owned by the 19 Northern States, in this project marks the first time a regional body has got involved in the upstream sector of our oil industry. Our 64-year-old oil industry in the Niger Delta offers no such privilege to the nine oil producing states of the Niger Delta.
This gives the Northern States residual “resource control” from day one of oil production in the North, while the Niger Delta oil states are paid derivation funds along with the interventions of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC.
From his body language at the flag-off, Buhari, who had been obsessed with oil finds in the North for over 40 years, feels a sense of accomplishment with the commencement of the reported Kolmani oil drilling. Unless there is a hidden agenda, Nigerians have the right to know everything about this oil facility.