Few weeks after gas deposits sparked a fire at the Caritas University in Enugu, the Federal Government and stakeholders, yesterday, met seeking leeway to environmental issues and possibilities of hydrocarbons in the state.
In an attempt to drill for water, contractors at the university had encountered gas deposits leading to a fire outbreak that lasted for days.
While the university, the state government, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and other stakeholders battled to halt the fire and close the well, the stakeholders said yesterday that a series of investigations, including activities that might result in hydrocarbon prospectivity might commence in the area.
Enugu State has been seeking to be recognised as an oil-producing state. While Kogi State, which bordered the Coal City state was recently named an oil-producing state, Representative of Enugu North Senatorial District, Chukwuma Utazi, raised the over the exclusion of his state from the oil-producing states.
He was reacting to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission’s (RMAFC) recent declaration of Kogi and Anambra states as oil-producing states, insisting that OPL 915 and 916 in the Anambra Basin belonged to Enugu State.
Coming at a time when the Federal Government already reserved 30 per cent of the oil profit that comes from Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) production sharing contracts, risk and service contracts and the likes to explore oil, NUPRC said in Enugu yesterday that the Federal Government was already collecting necessary data at the site.
NUPRC Chief Executive noted that although there are possibilities that the gas deposit is only on a surface level because the fire at the university had gone off by itself, investigation and data collection are being expedited to enable the commission to reach a meaningful conclusion.
Represented by Owerri Zonal Coordinator of NUPRC, Enorense Amadasu, he said a series of data collection, analysis and production processes would be required, making it impossible for the commission to reach a quick conclusion at the site.
He disclosed that the incident at the site did not occur as a result of a gas pipeline leak, adding that no pipeline passes through the area.
He said while the Niger Delta region had been covered by surveys as well as some parts of the Northern region, Komolafe said the survey was still going on.
“The commission is putting a mechanism in place to work with other stakeholders to see how they can acquire further seismic data that will further enable us to know exactly what kind of hydrocarbon deposit is in this aspect of the country.
“There is a school of thought, which says that what happened here is shadow gas, which evolves across the Enugu region. Depending on the volume of that, if that postulation is correct, after a time the volume will go off, which is what happened here. However, as I said before, we still need to add some more survey data and do the interpretation to be able to determine the exact position of hydrocarbon accumulation in the role of this region, he added.
The governor of the State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, noted necessary steps had been taken to ensure that the environment where the gas fire erupted was safe.
Represented by the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Greg Nnaji, the governor said the roles played by the stakeholders, especially the school and the NUPRC, must be commended.
Speaking at the press conference, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the school, Prof. Micheal Orji noted that the cost of shutting the well and cleaning up the university is yet to be quantified.
He revealed that the fire had gone off by itself while stakeholders were still meeting to find a lasting solution, a development, which he described as a miracle.
Orji said while the school is still going ahead to explore for water, the development meant that serious work would be done to avert the reoccurrence of such a situation.
“We are going to do a lot of seismic studies to be able to get clearer pictures. When that is done, a lot of information will be generated as to the technical environment which then perhaps will provide a direction,” Orji said.
He noted that the school is now working collaboratively with NUPRC to determine whether the deposit of hydrocarbons in the area is viable.