- Category: SPECIAL REPORTS
- Wednesday, 18 July 2012
- By Elombah.com
President Goodluck Jonathan is coming to Anambra State on August 30th to commission operations at the new Anambra oil wells and to formally declare Anambra an oil producing state. In February 2012, an indigenous company, Orient Petroleum Resources Plc announced they will soon commence the production of crude oil at it's
oil well in Aguleri Otu of Anambra West Local Government Area. Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, announced during a visit to the oil company's facilities in Anambra State that the company’s service contractor had made significant progress in the acquisition of high resolution 3D seismic data over 640 square kilometers of Orient’s oil blocks OPL 915 & 916 to delineate the full extent of the hydrocarbon discoveries and prospects. The Chairman of Orient Oil announced the company “would start production in a couple of weeks”.
However, Oil industry experts informed Elombah.com that if the company claims they were acquiring 640 KMs of seismic data, Seismic data acquisition is the first step in a long line of steps to finding oil in commercial quantities. Therefore it would be far-fetched to expect Orient to start oil production “in a matter of weeks”.
It is amazing then that recent reports say ORIENT PETROLEUM, has struck oil from three wells in Anambra North, that in fact, it has already despatched oil through River Anambra and River Niger to Port Harcourt for export in three barge tankers, and that “the very light crude from these wells will continue to be exported till the Orient Refinery in Aguleri starts operation in a few months time.”
It is significant to note that previous federal administrations had disallowed the exploitation of the Anambra petroleum resources, declaring them to be on strategic reserve, while denying Anambra the status and benefits of an oil producing state. Goodluck Jonathan, they said, quietly reversed that obnoxious policy.
Governor Peter Obi’s admirers praise him for the of taking ‘Anambra to the threshold of history!’ According to Uche Ezechukwu: “With this landmark event, it is hoped that Governor Obi's amazing effort to realize the Orient Petroleum Dream will become better known and appreciated.”
On her part, Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna, Chief of Staff, Anambra State Govt Hon Commissioner for Planning Budget, said: “Indeed, Governor Obi is worked round the clock to ensure this.“
She added that commissioning the Orient Petroleum Facilities is further tangible evidence of the President's love support for his dear friend/our beloved Governor Mr Peter Obi his people. What other Presidents did not do for Anambra State, our own Goodluck has done!”
HOWEVER, Orient oil was started under the Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration, and so if the Orient Refinery project commenced during Mbadinuju's tenure would it be correct to say that it was Jonathan that approved the commercial exploitation of Anambra oil?
According to Hon.Chudi Offodile, Orient Petroleum is a private company. “Indeed, the shares of anambra state are just about 2.5% of the entire shareholding of orient. The remaining 97.5% belong to private investors and individuals.”
The company was set up in 2001, under Mbadinuju, who in 2000,had set up a committee that midwife the creation of the company as a private company with a very small percentage set aside for the state government.
It is the contribution to pay up for the shares of the state in orient that all the successive governors, Chris Ngige, Virgy Etiaba and Peter Obi had made.
Those whose efforts got us to where we are, include, but not limited to, Engr Emeka Nwawka, Engr Sonny Okoye and Engr Iyke Akuezumba,the founding executives of orient petroleum. The board of orient with Chief Emeka Anyaoku as chairman, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Arthur Mbanefo and others as members, Mr Offodile said..
Mr Offodile therefore called the current adulation accorded to Peter Obi “a wave of propaganda on the oil producing status of Anambra State and how it was achieved by Peter Obi”.
He added: “It is to the credit of the board and management, particularly, Anyaoku, that orient petroleum was granted OPL 915 and 916,two of the oil blocks in the Anambra Basin, in 2005 by the Obasanjo administration. The blocks were supposed to provide feedstock for the refinery. Anyaoku leveraged on his friendship with Obasanjo. The company went through a very difficult period trying to raise money from wealthy Anambra indigenes but they shunned the company. They preferred Abuja and Lagos. I am proud of the fact that I made substantial investment in the orient project as one of the earliest shareholders of the company.”
“I have a responsibility, as a stakeholder in every sense of the word, to inform our people of the true state of affairs. No one person should try to steal our collective victory”, he concluded.
Be that as it may, Crude oil production, when it starts at the Anambra oil well, would mark the first time crude was produced in inland basin in Nigeria. The crude will be evacuated via a 10 -kilometre flow line to a spot at Anambra River basin from where evacuation of crude would be undertaken by barges to Brass in Bayelsa State.
According to Emeka Anyaoku, ‘Orient has finalised the detailed engineering and sourced the modules of its 55, 000 bpd refinery. It had also completed the geo-technical, geological and hydro-geological surveys and civil engineering works for installation of refinery equipment’.
It had also completed acquisition of 7 hectares of land from Kogi State for establishment of a depot for distribution of petroleum products from the refinery to the north and other parts of the country.
As to who should take the credit, Orient has been in the process of exploration since Olusegun Obasanjo's regime. Whether Orient found this oil then, or finds it after Goodluck Jonathan’s regime, should the glory go to the man that gave Orient the prospecting license to go ahead, or to the person that commissioned the project?
According to Uche Ezechukwu, “while Orient Company was started under the Chinwoke Mbadinuju administration and soon went comatose, it was revitalized by Governor Peter Obi who injected N4billion into it as the state government’s stake and has helped to do all the silent spade work that led to this happy state of affairs”.
But an indigene of Anambra state who wishes to remain anonymous reminded Elombah.com of Otumba Balogun of FCMB who gave Alex Ekwueme the glory for ensuring that he had his first banking license. In his view, it was a coincidence that they found the oil now. The honour should go to those that gave Orient its permission to exploit the Oil - Obasanjo. If Goodluck Jonathan wants glory, he should exploit our Coal.
Beyond the hoopla of discovering oil in Anambra state and who takes credit, several questions remain: Has Orient really struck oil in commercial quantity in Anambra state? What game is Emeka Nwakah and Peter Obi playing at Orient?
To be continued...