NUPRC moves to optimise Nigeria’s 1.6bn barrels heavy crude reserves

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in partnership with industry operators and service providers have analysed ways to harness Nigeria’s 1.6 billion heavy crude oil reserves, out of which it said only 5% is currently developed.

Speaking during an industry-wide workshop in Abuja organised by the commission, the Chief Executive of the NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, noted that given the current dynamics in the sector, Nigeria needs a paradigm shift from traditional, ‘siloed’ approaches towards a collaborative model that leverages the strengths of all stakeholders.

In his speech titled, “Entrenching Accelerated Development of Petroleum Prospecting Licenses (PPL) Assets and Heavy Crude Reserves Through Strategic Partnerships with Technology Drivers and Industry Service Providers, Komolafe said “Heavy crude oil certainly is part of our valued hydrocarbon resources but yet to be effectively valorised. Heavy crude oil, often characterised by its high density and viscosity, presents a significant opportunity for Nigeria’s energy sector.

“Available records reveal that as of January 1, 2024, Nigeria’s heavy crude reserves stood at about 1.67 billion barrels. 62% of this volume is proven while 38% is unproven. 71% of the total reserves are domiciled in acreages operated by NEPL, 12% in IOC-owned acreages, and 17% are found in other operating companies’ acreages.

According to Komolafe, the development of heavy crude is not without challenges, with the high viscosity of heavy crude requiring sophisticated extraction and processing techniques.Additionally, he disclosed that the high sulphur content of heavy crude results in higher greenhouse gas emissions during production, which raises environmental concerns.