Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Foreign Investors Stake Interest in Niger State's Oil Belt

Chinese firm to build N160b refinery in the state

FIVE foreign investors have staked interest in oil and gas exploration in Niger State, sequel to favourable assessment of commercial occurrence of deposits in the Bida Basin.

Already, a Chinese firm has concluded plans to invest over N160 billion in the construction of a refinery in Baro, in the state.

The Niger State government, early in 2012, set up a technical committee to look into the commercial viability of oil and gas deposits in the Bida Basin and the possibility of the government going into the exploration of the commodities.

The technical committee, early in 2013, returned a positive finding and since them government has been exploring the possibility of making its dream a reality.

The state’s Commissioner for Mining and Mineral Resources, Alhaji Abubakar Baba Jibreel, who briefed the press on the activities of the ministry for 2013, said the Chinese firm is among five other foreign investors that have indicated interest in oil and gas exploration in the Bida Basin.

Alhaji Baba Jibreel said government has not entered into any Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese firm because it did not want the investor to be the sole owner of the refinery, which will not be in the interest of the people of the state and the government.

The Commissioner explained that foreign investors are showing interest in the oil and gas deposits in the Bida Basin because of the quality of crude oil discovered in the area and the certification of the sample got from the area by internationally recognized laboratories outside the country.

Jibreel explained further that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had approved a letter on the oil and gas deposits in the Bida Basin and sent it to the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

According to him, the Minister had also forwarded the letter to the office of a Director in the Ministry with a directive that a meeting should be held with officials of Niger State government on the matter.

Jibreel said but for some emergency that happened late last year the meeting with the Ministry officials would have been held to pave way for the signing of the MOU with investors, but added that a date this month has picked for the parley to take place.

The Commissioner also raised alarm over the activities of miners in the state accusing them of not adopting ‘best practices’ in their operations, which has been exposing the various communities and miners to a lot of danger.

He therefore called for a review of the mining laws of the country to make it possible for states and local governments to have roles to play before miners begin their operations anywhere in the country. culled from

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