The Federal Government has set up a committee to work out modalities on the exploitation and exploration of bitumen resource, as part of the administration’s efforts to diversify the economy.
Nigeria has an estimated reserve of about 42.74 billion metric tonnes of bitumen states including, Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, and Bayelsa, which have remained untapped for years.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who said this at the inauguration of a nine-member committee on the mineral, noted that said bitumen is an important component needed for road construction.
Adegbite also explained that since the natural resource is in abundance, the federal government and other stakeholders could explore and exploit for economic benefits of all citizens, and could be an export commodity for the country.
According to him, some of the benefits the government would derive from the exploration of bitumen deposits, include economic diversification, advancement in technology, international contracts, among others.
In addition, he said the drilling of bitumen is vital for international cooperation in the new expanding technology and socio-economic impact in the areas of operation as well as attract foreign investors, amongst others.
Responding, the Committee Chairman, Simon Nkom, who is also the Director General, Mining Cadastre Office, assured the Minister that they would work assiduously to justify the confidence reposed in them, and to deliver the assignment within time frame.
Other members of the committee were drawn from staff of other relevant departments in the Ministry, and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
The Committee has two weeks to submit its report with the following terms of reference: to collate and study previous reports on development of bitumen in Nigeria; to identify current titleholders and the level of exploration or exploitation. Others include, determining available bitumen reserves, and recommending criteria for allocation of available reserves, and ways of developing the resource to ensure maximum benefits for the country.