Nigeria's state oil firm has started exploration in the onshore frontier basins, aiming to boost the OPEC producer's proven crude oil reserves to 50 billion barrels from 37 billion barrels, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) said.
NNPC spud on Tuesday the first well in the Middle Benue Trough, as part of a presidential mandate for the company to pursue exploration in the frontier inland basins, Mele Kyari, NNPC's Group Chief Executive Officer, said.
The new frontier exploration efforts aim to boost Nigeria's reserves - currently proven at 37 billion barrels per OPEC data - to strengthen the country's energy security and increase economic benefits for Nigerians, Kyari added.
NNPC mobilized a drilling rig in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, and a positive outcome of the exploration could help boost reserves to 50 billion barrels and raise Nigeria's crude oil production to 3 million barrels per day (bpd) in the medium term, Kyari said.
According to OPEC's latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR), Nigeria's crude oil production rose by 72,000 bpd from January to 1.38 million bpd in February. Recently, the Nigerian government has reached a security deal with a former warlord in the Niger Delta-a deal that appears to be holding off threats to production and leading to a recovery in Nigeria's oil production.
However, the level of the crude oil output, at 1.38 million bpd in February per OPEC's secondary sources, was well below the 1.742 million bpd quota Nigeria has as part of the OPEC+ agreement between November 2022 and December 2023.
The combination of pipeline vandalism and oil theft with a lack of investment in capacity has made Nigeria the biggest laggard in crude oil production in the OPEC+ alliance.
Oil theft and pipeline vandalism have long plagued Nigeria's upstream oil and gas industry, driving majors out of the country and often resulting in force majeure at the key crude oil export terminals.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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