THE fate of the several abandoned crude oil fields in Nigeria was still shrouded in secrecy as at Wednesday, as neither the operators nor the Federal Government has been able to disclose any plans for the wells.
Currently, there are 32 abandoned oil wells in Akwa Ibom State axis of the country. The wells, located in Oko, Okoroette and Utapete communities were explored, sealed and abandoned 17 years ago by the operators.
Also, the Oloibiri oilfield, where the nation first struck its oil, located in Oloibiri in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, produced over 20 million barrels of oil during its 20 years life cycle. Oil production finally stopped in 1978 and the field was abandoned the same year.
The Oloibiri oilfield was abandoned without any improved recovery to drain some of the 21.26 million barrels (3,380,000 m3) of hydrocarbon still left on the field.
The National Petroleum Investment Management Services confirmed that there are 500 fields in the Niger Delta.
“Over 55 per cent of these are onshore, while the remaining are in the shallow waters. Of these fields, 193 are currently producing while 23 have either been closed-down or abandoned as a result of poor prospects or total drying up of the wells.”
The Guardian gathered that the operators of the abandoned fields decided not to continue with exploration due to the activities of militants in the Niger Delta.
The Guardian also learnt that some of the International Oil Companies had already written officially to the Federal Government concerning their plans not to return to those fields until the environment is conducive enough for exploration.
Already, the country has started witnessing decline in its daily crude oil production. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) confirmed in its half yearly report that the country’s crude oil production, including condensates decreased to 2.09 million barrels per day (bpd) in the first half of 2012, compared with the 2.14 mbd recorded in the first half of 2011.
This, experts believed, called for the need for the government to consider the reopening of the abandoned wells littered all over the Niger Delta region.
Experts believed that Nigeria’s crude oil and gas production risks a decline by 40 per cent over the next 10 years if the government fails to provide a conducive investment.
Speaking to the media recently, General Manager, Operational Technical Geoscience Department of Exxonmobli, Andrew Ejayeriese said for Nigeria to sustain its leadership position in Africa, it must create the right condition and take quick decisions that enhance the overall production chain.
He said: “An operator needs to reinvest about 50 per cent of annual cash flow to keep production flat. Without new investments, Nigeria’s production will decline by 40 per cent by 2020, while it could potentially grow by nearly 50 per cent within same period, with continued and planned investments of $110 billion.
“Without investments, the industry will not replace declining production, let alone grow. Clearly, that is a tragedy for a country blessed with such a significant hydrocarbon endowment”.
He argued that Nigeria has the potential to remain the leading hydrocarbon producer and exporter in Africa for the foreseeable future.
Nigeria remained Africa’s largest oil producer, exporting around 2.5 million barrels per day, with plans to raise production to four million barrels per day.
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio recently raised alarm over the abandoned oil wells, which he said, were constituting a nuisance to and endanger the lives of the children of Eastern Obolo for so many years.”
According to him, “these oil wells are onshore. I appeal to the Federal Government to plead with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Minister of Petroleum Resources to do everything possible to get the wells functional and reopened, so that business can enter into the towns, our children can have employment opportunities, our state can improve on on-shore oil capacity and so that some industries would come to Eastern Obolo.”
He added: “It is for the overall interest of Nigeria to improve on the daily production of oil and I don’t see any reason why so many millions of barrels of oil would not come in those seventeen years. If we do not re-open them now, they could be locked up for more seventeen years.”
All efforts by The Guardian to get reaction from Shell Petroleum Development Company proved abortive as the company simply said that it would “not wish to speculate on our business plans.”
Surprisingly, the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Osten Oluronsola told The Guardian that there were no abandoned oil fields in the country.
Oluronsola said that the fields, which were being referred to as abandoned, were actually temporarily shut down due to some reason best known to the owners of the fields.
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