The Nigerian government spent $13 million on bitumen imports in 2020 despite the nation’s huge deposits, the director-general of the Mining Cadastre Office, Simon Nkom, has said.
Mr Nkom disclosed this at the ongoing Nigeria-Africa Natural Resources and Energy Investment Summit in Abuja on Thursday.
“Nigeria is blessed with 42.47 billion metric tonnes of bitumen reserves yet untapped,” he said.
“Bitumen is located in Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa. Despite being blessed with this Natural mineral in abundance, Nigeria spent $13 million on importation in 2020.”
Bitumen is a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as residue from petroleum distillation. It is used for road surfacing, roofing, adhesives, and insulation and is found in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Edo States.
After repeatedly failing in the past to harness its bitumen reserves, the government in April announced it would grant concessions of bitumen blocks to prospective local and international companies in a bid to end the importation of the mineral deposit in the country.
It consequently appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers as its transaction advisor in November 2021.
Mr Ikom said on Thursday that Nigeria is ranked 6th in global bitumen deposit as demand for the mineral in Nigeria is high due to high road construction.
“Nigeria has more than 160, 000 kilometres of roads to be tarred while only 60,000 are already tarred,” he added.
He noted that the current global bitumen market was $42 billion and could increase to $66 billion by 2027 due to its high demand.
“This shows that there will be a rise in the value of the bitumen market by 2027, that is why Nigeria should look into bitumen exploration that will bring development to the country.
“Nigeria can conserve its foreign exchange when it starts exploration on the mineral and this will bring a boost to our economy,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Cyril Azobu, the Partner/Mining Leader, PriceWaterhouseCooper said “Nigeria is endowed with a good quality of untapped bitumen.
“Bitumen is a big demand all over the world, Nigeria can serve as a hub for local supply of bitumen or asphalt for export in sub-Saharan to other countries,” he said.
“The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, issued a letter of award on November 11, 2021, to PwC to act as its Transaction Advisor and Programme Manager for the concession of the bitumen block to potential investors.
“Programmes had been lined up for the successful take for bitumen concession to the right investors, noting that hopefully it will be concluded before the end of this year.”
He added that the ministry in collaboration with PwC will embark on a sensitisation workshop and an investor conference will be held soon to ensure judicious exploitation of the nation’s bitumen deposits.
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