President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday flagged off the Kolmani Integrated Development Project in Bauchi State, marking the commencement of efforts to commercially exploit oil in the Northern part of Nigeria.

The Kolmani oil field, estimated to have a reserve of about one billion barrels of crude oil, OPL 809 and 810, lies in the Gongola Basin of the Upper Benue Trough, straddling Bauchi and Gombe states.

The oil blocks are owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, as a concessionaire with New Nigeria Development Company Ltd, Africa Oilfield movers Ltd, and SEEPCO as partners.

The well is expected to produce 50,000 barrels of oil per day during the first phase.

Speaking shortly before the official groundbreaking, President Buhari said the successful discovery of the Kolmani Oil and Gas field by NNPC and its partners had finally broken the jinx record by confirmation of huge commercial deposits of hydrocarbons in Kolmani River field.

The President said: “Considering the landlocked location and the huge capital requirement, the economics of the project is a challenging proposition. Consequently, from the onset, I instructed NNPC Limited to utilize and leverage their vast asset portfolio across all corridors of its operations to de-risk the project to attract the much-needed investment. I have directed NNPC to continue along these lines.

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“It is therefore to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able to attract investment of over USD 3 billion to this project.”

On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said Buhari’s government was determined to end energy poverty in the country while creating shared prosperity for all Nigerians.

In their separate remarks, the governors of Bauchi and Gombe states, Sen. Bala Mohammed and Muhammad Yahaya respectively, assured investors of the security of the project.

The governors also assured that the mistakes made in the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in the Niger Delta would be avoided.

To this end, the governors held that they would continue to collaborate to ensure harmonious relationships among the host communities.

On his part, the Group CEO, NNPCL, Mele Kyari, disclosed that being an integrated project, the first phase would entail an in-stu oil refinery of up to 120,000 barrels per day capacity, a gas processing plant of up to 500 million standard cubic feet per day, a power plant of up to 500 Megawatts capacity, and a fertilizer plant of 2,500 tons per day.

He also disclosed that in another phase of the project, “there will be a downstream oil terminal/depot for offtake and distribution of the white products coming out of the refinery and further development of the integrated project.”

Kyari added the financing for the project had been secured, stating that when completed, the project would ensure energy security for the country.

The event, attended by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and APC presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Bola Tinubu, was also graced by governors of several northern states.