Tarsands and Bitumen - Exploration Opportunties
Surface Bituminous Occurrences
Extensive bituminous seepages and sediments impregnated with tarry oil define a narrow band about 5-8km wide between latitude 60 37'N and 60 48'N, stretching from just East of Ijebu-Ode town (Ogun State) to the banks of the tributaries of the Siluko River at Ofosu Village in Edo State, an approximate distance of 110km. It is covered by the following Federal Survey sheets 280, 280A, 281, 281A, 282 and 283.
They occur in two (2) different forms:
- As seepages in farmlands (seen only on hot days) from the underlying sandstone reservoir.
- As surface and near surface impregnated sediments exposed along road cuts, cliff faces and river banks and at break of slopes.
With the exception of road cut exposures, most of these seepages and surface/ near surface impregnated sediments occur in geographic positions not easily accessible.
Sub-Surface Bituminous Occurrences
Sub-surface occurrences of bituminous sands and heavy oils are known from flows and shows in drilled and cored wells in the onshore, coastal and offshore areas of the basin. Most of these wells (now abandoned) penetrated horizons with highly viscous hydrocarbons at relatively shallow depths.
Market Prospect and Application
The only source of bitumen at present in Nigeria is the Kaduna Refinerywhich processes imported heavy crude. This is insufficient for domestic needs, thus, Nigeria imports bitumen to supplement her internal production.
Extracted bitumen from the tarsand belt can be used as feedstock for the Kaduna Refinery; and for setting up other bitumen processing units to meet both domestic and West African sub-regional needs.
The bitumen is uniquely aromatic and naphthenic in composition, thus can be used for the manufacture of naphthenic base stocks for industries specilizing in critical application products.
Heavy and extra-heavy crude can be extracted from the Nigerian tarsands. This can be upgraded to synthetic crude oil or syncrude specification tailored as feed stock to refineries. Sulphur and phenol can be derived from it.
Laboratory tests have shown that specification grade grease within NLGI classification number 3 and 2 (i.e. soap and clay based respectively) suitable as lubricants for plain and roller bearings, and as sealant can be made from the tarsand's oil.
Emerging Prospects for Investment in the Tar Sands Resources
Previous attempts at attracting investors to the tar sand resource of Nigeria (1990s, 2002-2003, 2006) have either produced investors who lacked the technical capability and financial muzzle the types required for a subsector like the tarsand's or those who wanted the blocks for other purposes other than development.
The defunct Bitumen Project Implementation Committee between 2002 and 2005 drilled 16 coreholes in Blocks 1 and 2 of the belt. Out of the 16, 5 penetrated bituminous sands at depths varying from 60 to 94.83m. The average thickness of the pay zones was found to be 6m.
With the country's return to democracy in 1999, Government commenced a major reform of the economy. A major focus of the reform was the privatization of most Government interests in all the sector of the economy. Importantly, the reform in the solid mineral's subsector transformed the nature of Government participation from that of owner-operator to administrator-regulator.
Abundant investment opportunities abound in the subsector as some of those who won the four privatized blocks are desperately in need of partnering with reputable outfits having required technology and access to finance. Government is also reviewing the entire sales and purchase procedure for blocks to make participation easier and development achievable.
Government has created a favourable climate for business and industries ventures. Infrastructures have improved, administrative and bureaucratic procedures are being streamlined while exchange control regulations have been liberalized to ensure a free flow of international finance. There is now unrestricted movement of investment capital.
For Further Enquiries, Please Contact:
NIGERIAN GEOLOGICAL SURVEY AGENCY
31 Shettima Monguno Crescent
Behind Julius Berger Office, Utako District
P.M.B. 616, Abuja, Nigeria.
Further details can be obtained from the following resource: Tarsands and Bitumen – Exploration opportunities in Nigeria.