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Image:Dr. Mobolaji Aluko Mid-Week Essay
On the Resource Control Battle: From Dichotomy to Quartonomy, From Isopatials to Isobaths

Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
Burtonsville, MD, USA

February 19, 2003

In the coming week or two, just in time for the April 19 presidential and gubernatorial elections, and after a cursory glance by the National Assembly, an Oil bill that will be pleasing to the Niger-Delta governors will finally be signed by President Obasanjo.

They will be able to tell their subjects that they have fought a hard battle and won, therefore they should now be re-elected. This is because in a formidable display of political casuistry, a previously-demanded isopatial of 200 miles (from the sea coastline) for offshore 13% derivation purposes to the littoral states has suddenly been transformed in the Niger-Delta into an isobath of 200 meters (from the surface of the sea). Under this compromise, the isospatial that the Obasanjo government had previously offered - 24 nautical miles from the coastal baseline, which is the outerlimit of the contiguous zone - has become actually like 24 - 55 nautical miles in some parts of Nigeria (in the Niger-Delta: Cross-River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta) and practically 0 - 24 nautical miles in some other parts of Nigeria (Ondo, Ogun and Lagos.) [See Note 1]

By going from an isospatial to an isobath, we have also gone from a simple dichotomy - land v. sea - to a quartonomy: land v. shallow water (0 - 200 m deep) v. deep water (200 m - 1,400 m deep) v. ultradeep water (greater than 1,400 m deep).

So some Niger-Deltans are happy, while some other Nigerians who may not be much wiser, will be happy to put pen to paper, only after which they will know what has been signed.

My claim here is that the new bill requires a further amendment: the phrase Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic zone should be replaced not simply by “contiguous zone (24 nautical miles)” as originally suggested by Obasanjo, or by “200 meters isobaths” (which is the new compromise) but with "200 meter water depth isobaths, or the contiguous zone (24 nautical miles from the baseline), whichever is farther from the coastline of each littoral state."

This should satisfy all-comers.

Here is why and how, but first a quick lesson.

Oil and Gas in Nigeria: A Quick Lesson
Nigeria, 10th largest oil producer in the world, the third largest in Africa and the most prolific oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, has about 250 oil and gas fields of which some 120 fields are producing. It contains estimated proven oil reserves of 22.5 billion barrels and produces 90 million tons per year (2 million barrels per day, 2 mmbbl/d) of crude oil, mostly from the Niger-Delta.

Present plans are to increase that daily production to 4 mmbbl/d, and reserve amount to 40 billion barrels, all by 2010, through further prospecting, mainly OFFSHORE. Its crude oils have a gravity between 21 deg. API and 45 deg. API. Its main export crudes are Bonny Light (37deg. API) and Forcados (31 deg. API). About 65% of Nigeria’s oil is above 35 deg. API with a very low sulphur content. [See Note 2]

Nigeria also contains an estimated 124 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas (mainly methane CH4) reserves mainly from onshore fields and the swampy areas also of the Niger-Delta, and a recoverable amount of about 45 Tcf. This reserve, equivalent to 12.4 trillion barrels of crude oil (about 500 times the proven crude oil reserves), is estimated to be the 9th largest in the world. The 1999 estimate of Natural Gas Production was 245 billion cubic feet (Bcf).

Due, mainly, to the lack of a gas infrastructure (leading to a 1999 usage estimate of only 219 Bcf), 60-75% of associated gas is flared and 12% re-injected. Again, present plans are to eliminate all gas flaring to zero in 2004 (realistically, more like 2010). [See Notes 2, 4-7 for oil and gas production notes.]

During the 1990’s Nigerias deep (200 m to 1400 m) and ultradeep (greater than 1400 m) areas in contrast to shallow waters (0 to 200 m) have become the focus of major exploration both for oil and gas, with encouraging success.

The Nigerian economy is largely dependent on its oil sector. In 2001 for example, with an estimate Gross Domestic Product of $40.1 billion, oil export revenues of about $19.5 billion represented about 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Nigeria was the 5th largest crude exporter to the United States in 2000, behind Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Canada and Venezuela.

In 1971, Nigeria joined OPEC (currently 11 members: Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela), and is currently its 6th or 7th largest producer. Nigeria’s present OPEC quota is 1.89 million bbl/d.

In line with OPEC resolutions, the Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC) was established, later becoming NNPC in 1977. The giant parastatal and its many subsidiary companies control all sectors of the oil industry, both upstream and downstream.

All the big multinational oil companies: Exxon-Mobil (2001 total world Revenues: $232 billiion), BP ($148 billion), TotalFinaElf ($99 billion); ChevronTexaco ($91 billion) and Royal Dutch/Shell ($89 billion), play on Nigeria’s oil and gas fields. ENI/Agip (Agip) is also a major player. Others include Statoil, Sun Oil, Tenneco, British Gas, Conoco, Deminex, and Petrobas.

Of Maps and Oil
Take a look at the following five maps and you will see about what I write. It will be best that you have a good web-browser - and a color printer!

MAP 1: shows the main sites of ONSHORE production wells in Nigeria.

As you can see, out of the 8 littoral states (Cross-River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo, Ogun, Lagos), these onshore fields are concentrated in three states: Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta.

MAP 2: Offshore Blocks in Nigeria (Deep and UltraDeep): shows off the offshore wealth of the country, complete with the oil blocks, where OPL stands for Oil Prospecting Licence and OML stands for Oil Mining Licence. (Understandably, you get OML after OPL). It also shows a number of isobaths: 500 m, 1000m and 1500 m. This means that only deep and ultradeep oil blocks are depicted here. [See Note 3]

Map 3, unlike Map 2, shows no block names, but rather several isobaths (100m, 200m, 500m, 1000, 1500m, etc.) and only seven of the many major deep/ultradeep water fields:

Next, we have Map 4, which is the most comprehensive map of the area, but not the most current in terms of who owns what blocks. It shows the 1000m and 2000 m isobaths, but now depicts ALL the offshore oil fields, including those in shallow waters.

The final map is Map 5, which is a modification of an original index map of the Niger Delta showing some 4 bathymetric contour lines (200m, 2000 m, 3000m and 4000m)

In my modification, I merely superimposed 24 nm and 200 nm isospatials:

From Map 5, one can now see why the Niger-Delta governors are now much happier: The compromise solution covers the very vast majority of the producing oil fields, and certainly more than the 24 nautical miles. One also sees why Lagos, Ogun and Delta, in their own interest, should insist on the former 24 nautical miles, because that is largely advantageous to those states compared with the 200 meters isobars.

It is true that oil within the 200 nautical miles isospatial is the real desire of the Niger-Deltans for 13% derivation - but brothers and sisters of the Niger-Delta, please spare the rest of Nigerians a dime! With this compromise, let us keep the generosity up and the greed down - for the sake of the nation.

A Recommendation
In light of Map 5, and in order to be fair to all states (including Lagos, Ogun and Ondo) following all the ongoing negotiations, the new bill requires a further amendment: the phrase Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic zone be replaced with "200 meter water depth isobaths, or the contiguous zone (24 nautical miles from the baseline), whichever is farther from the coastline of each littoral state."

Then the President should sign the bill, so that the nation can get on with other business of nation-building.

I rest my case.


  1. A nautical mile is 1850 m (6087 feet), and is slightly longer than the ordinary map (or “statutory) mile, used on land (which is 1609m, 5280 feet) and is the reasonable unit to use for navigation and sea measurements. 1 Nautical mile = 1.15 statutory mile. 1 statutory mile = 1.609 km. For our purposes in this essay, nautical mile and statutory miles are essentially the same. Note that very sixty nautical miles is one degree of latitude anywhere on earth or one degree of longitude on the equator

  2. The higher the degrees API , the lighter (less dense, thinner) is the crude oil, and in general the more desirable, say medium gravity 30 - 40 deg. API. However, it is the composition of the crude, not really the specific gravity, that is the desirable issue for the production of high octane gasoline and diesel fuel. Also the lower the sulphur, the “sweeter” (less polluting from processing) the crude. 0.50% mass or less of sulphur is considered sweet crude; otherwise sour (hence more cost to process sulphur removal), but not to exceed 2%. About gas: You may see it stated that one barrel of oil is equivalent (boe) to 10,000 cubic feet (10 Mcf) of natural gas, which means that 1 mmcf is equivalent to 100 bbls of oil, 1 bcf is equivalent to 100,000 bbls (100 mbbls) of crude oil and 1 tcf is equivalent to 100 bn bbls of crude. [1 barrel = 42 US gallons = 0.1 cubic meters = 5.61 cubic feet].

  3. Going from left to right of Map 2, and from top to bottom of the major (awarded) blocks, we have: Block - field name (off-coast distance) - oil companies - reserves and/or estimated (peak) production per day
    • OPL 316 - Abo - Agip/BP/ExxonMobil - 70,000 bpd
    • *OPL 318 - Phillips/ChevronTexaco/Petronas
    • OPL 209 - Erha - ExxonMobil - 1.2 bn bbls reserves - 210,000 bpd
    • *OPL 320 - Oranto and Orandi Oil Co.
    • OPL 212 - Bonga (120 km off coast) - Shell/NNPC - 600 mm bbls reserve - 225-350,000 bpd
    • OML 118 - Bonga SW - Shell/NNPC - 600 mm bbls reserve
    • *OPL 324 - Petrobas
    • OPL 213 - Aparo - ChevronTexaco
    • *OPL 250 - ChevronTexaco/Shell/Petrobas
    • *OPL 214 - ExxonMobil/ChevronTexaco/Petronas
    • *OPL 242 - Obekpa Oil
    • OPL 216, 217 - Agbami (70 miles off coast), Ikija-1 - ChevronTexaoco/NNPC - 1 bn bbls reserve - 200,000 bpd maximum
    • OPL 218 - Nnwa-2 - Statoil - abandoned
    • OPL 219 - Doro, Ngolo - Shell - 100 mm bbls reserve
    • OPL 220 - Chota-2 - Conoco Phillips
    • OPL 222 - Ukot-1 - TotalFinaElf
    • *OPL 244 - 200 km south of Brass terminal - ENI/Agip/NPDC
    • OPL 246 - Akpo-1 - TotalElfFina /South Atlantic Petro./Petrobas - 200 mm bbls reserve - 9,000 bpd light oil
      * awarded in December 2000; last round of awards. See Here For More

      Not shown:

    • OML 70 - } Amenam/ - ExxonMobil - } 500 mmbbls reserve - 130,000 bpd (2003)
    • OML 99 - } Kpono - TotalFinaElf - }

  4. The major currently PRODUCING oil fields (onshore and offshore) are named
    • Nembe Creek (Shell; 950 mmbls and 1.5 tcf gas; 120,000 bbl/d),
    • Cawthorn Channel (Shell; 750 mmbls and 900 bcf gas; 70,000 bbl/d),
    • Ekulama (Shell; 50,000 bbl/d),
    • Jones Creek (Shell; 900 mmbls and 350 bcf gas; 30,000 bbl/d),
    • Forcados Yokri (Shell, 1235 mmbls and 1.1 tcf gas),
    • Escravos Beach (ChevronTexaco),
    • Meren (offshore; ChevronTexaco/NNPC; 1100 mmbls and 1.3 tcf gas; 85,000 bbl/d),
    • Okan (ChevronTexaco, 50,000 bbl/d),
    • Benin River (ChevronTexaco, 30,000 bbl/d),
    • Opuekeba (ChevronTexaco, , 20,000 bbl/d),
    • Benue River (ChevronTexaco, 15,000 bbl/d)
    • Mefa (ChevronTexaco, 15,000 bbl/d)
    • Edop (NNPC/Mobil; offshore 160,000 bbl/d),
    • Ubit (NNPC/Mobil; offshore; 110,000 bbl/d),
    • Asasa (NNPC/Mobil, offshore; 125,000 bbl/d)
    • Oso (NNPC/Mobil; offshore110,000 bbl/d condensate, )

  5. Crude Oil and Gas Production in Nigeria
    Nigerian crude oil production has averaged 2.21 million bbl/d for the first nine months of 1997. This is nearly half a million bbl/d over the country's 1.865 million bbl/d OPEC quota. Nigeria's OPEC quota will rise to 2.042 million bbl/d in 1998, as a result of the latest OPEC meeting held in late November 1997. Nigeria produced 2.05 million bbl/d in 1996, and 1.88 million bbl/d in 1995.

    A JV operated by Shell accounts for nearly half (approximately 925,000 bbl/d) of Nigeria's total oil production. The Shell JV is composed of NNPC (55%), Shell (30%), Elf (10%) and Agip (5%). Shell's production is divided into two regional divisions, each with its own export terminal.

    The Eastern or Bonny division has production centered in seven groups of oilfields, with the largest being Nembe (production capacity 120,000 bbl/d). The other groups are Cawthorn Channel (70,000 bbl/d), Ekulama (50,000 bbl/d), Imo River (25,000 bbl/d), Kolo Creek (25,000 bbl/d), Adibawa (20,000 bbl/d) and Etelelbou (20,000 bbl/d).

    The Western or Forcados division has six main groups of oil fields: Estuary South Bank (40,000 bbl/d), Jones Creek (30,000 bbl/d), Olomoro (20,000 bbl/d), Otumara (20,000 bbl/d), Sapele (20,000 bbl/d) and Egwa (15,000 bbl/d)…….

    Nigeria's second largest JV involves NNPC (60%) and Chevron (40%). Chevron's current output is around 400,000 bbl/d from approximately 25 producing fields. The fields are located in the Warri region of the Western Niger River Delta. Major fields include Meren (85,000 bbl/d), Okan (50,000 bbl/d), Benin River (30,000 bbl/d), Opuekeba (20,000 bbl/d), Benue River (15,000 bbl/d) and Mefa (15,000 bbl/d).

    Crude exports are shipped from Chevron's Escravos terminal. About two-thirds of the JV's production is offshore in shallow water. The Chevron JV also has suffered production disruptions due to ethnic unrest, sabotage of facilities and theft. Chevron plans to increase production capacity to 600,000 bbl/d by 2000, but budget constraints by the NNPC may hinder developments.

    Another JV, between NNPC (60%) and Mobil (40%), has production capacity of approximately 400,000 bbl/d of crude and an additional 110,000 bbl/d of condensate (which is excluded from the OPEC quota). The majority of Mobil's crude production is located offshore in the Qua (Kwa) Iboe group of fields. Major fields of the Qua Iboe include Edop (160,000 bbl/d), Ubit (110,000 bbl/d) and Asasa (125,000 bbl/d) which came on stream in 1996.

    The Edop production platform, Nigeria's largest, has the capacity to produce 250,000 bbl/d, and it is expected to reach that level in 2002. Production capacity is expected to reach nearly 530,000 bbl/d in 1997, which will make the Mobil JV Nigeria's second largest crude producer.

    An Agip-operated JV consists of nearly 30 small fields, predominantly onshore of the central Niger River Delta, and has current production of about 150,000 bbl/d. Partners in the JV are NNPC (60%), Agip (20%) and Phillips Petroleum (20%). Texaco is operator of five offshore fields that currently produce about 60,000 bbl/d. The crude is exported through the Pennington terminal. The NNPC holds a 60 percent interest in this JV, and Texaco and Chevron each hold 20 percent shares.

    A JV between Elf (40%) and NNPC (60%) currently produces approximately 125,000 bbl/d from 11 onshore and offshore fields. In 1996, Elf and Mobil were in dispute over operational control of an offshore field containing 500-700 million barrels of reserves and a production potential of 90,000 bbl/d. Elf, which has designated it Amenam, argues that over 80 percent of the field's reserves lie in its offshore OML 99 block. Mobil, which calls the field Kpomno, contends that the field's offshore location makes it better suited for development through its facilities.

  6. New Gas Reserves
    New discoveries raise Nigeria's gas reserves
    04-09-02 Fresh discoveries in Nigeria in the last two years have raised the country's gas reserves by 18.5 tcf, according to statistics released by the NNPC at the on going 17th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    The Federal Government has subsequently, promised mouth watering incentives to investors that engaged in projects that would assist in monetising the country's huge gas resources. Nigeria's current gas reserves is put at 170 tcf. The new addition came from deep offshore fields namely Bosi, located in Oil Prospecting License (OPL), with five tcf, Shell's Bonga West and South West fields, 1.0 tcf and Bonga oil field which added 7 bn cf of gas.

    New gas reserves also came from the Doro/Nnwa deep offshore field with 8.4 tcf, Ngolo field with 2.4 tcf and Bolia/Chota field which added 1.0 tcf of gas. Vice President Atiku Abubakar speaking at a dinner in honour of Nigerian delegates to the WPC said that with this proven gas reserves and probable reserves of 250 tcf, Nigeria was in many respect a gas province with associated oil reserves……..

    7. Oil, Gas, Refining & Petrochemical (Plant Design & Construction) Market in Nigeria
    Deep Water
    The government’s desire to increase both daily production capacity to 3 mbpd and oil reserves to 30 billion barrels by 2003 led to the decision in 1993 to invite oil companies to bid for deep-water blocks located off the continental shelf of Nigeria. A total of eighteen deep water offshore frontier blocks in water depths greater than 200m but less than 1400m were awarded to 13 companies, all under Production Sharing Contract (PSC) arrangements with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation who are the license holder

    The PSC provides for ten years exploration activities and production license period of twenty years. The Production sharing contract involves an agreement to split “profit oil” between NNPC and Operating partner during production. Profit oil being available crude oil after allocation of royalty oil, tax oil and cost oil. Royalty oil and tax oil is allocated crude oil to NNPC that will generate proceeds equal to payment of royalty and Petroleum profit tax respectively. Cost oil is allocated crude oil to operating company that will generate costs. This involves no Government funding and the operating company bears all the risk of operating cost. NNPC audits and approves all operating cost.

    Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) discovered the first oil field in Nigeria deep water in 1995. Bonga field is a deep-water offshore block of It lies at a distance of 120km from Nigeria shoreline approximately 4 degrees and 33 seconds North, 4 degrees and 36 seconds East. The estimated project cost is over US$2 billion. About 100 Shell Nigerian Engineers are presently in Houston learning deep-water technology. The new discovery made in south west Bonga took the total recoverable oil in the prolific field to 1.2 mbpd after an earlier drilling had yielded 600 million barrels. The FPSO for Bonga will have its topsides constructed and put on by the end of 2002 at Wallsend.

    Shell’s EA field recently started production at 50,000bpd. The EA is located some 15 KM offshore south west of Warri and it's FPSO is hooked up to already installed soft yoke mooring platform.

    Agbami field owned by ChevronTexaco Nigeria Limited in partnership with Famfa an indigenous company remained the only one of the 5 major discoveries in deepwater still on the drawing board. Development had been held down by conflict. . Bids would be called first quarter 2003. ChevronTexaco is surveying the local market for possible indigenous fabricators to involve as sub-contractors.

    The FPSO for Agbami would now include new tanks to be factored in the hull of the vessel. The production capacity on its topside is being raised by 20%. Agbami would flow up to 200,000bpd. ChevronTexaco is handling the project through its wholly owned subsidiary Star Deep water Petroleum Ltd. Development of the deep offshore field is expected to cost US$1 billion.

    Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL) a member of ExxonMobil family, has awarded the FPSO contract for the deep offshore Erha field to Bouygues Offshore a subsidiary of Saipem. The contract covers engineering, procurement, construction, towing and commissioning of the FPSO as well as the supply of anchor chains. It is scheduled to arrive mid 2005. The Erha field development is estimated will cost $2.4b

    TotalFinaElf Nigeria Limited will start drilling in its offshore mega field - Amenam/Kpono preparatory to streaming the oil field by July next year. During the exercise a total of 31 wells of depth between 4,000 to 6,800 metres will be drilled. The fabrication of the well-head platform, their connecting bridge and the jacket for living quarter and the well head platforms have been completed in Warri, Delta State. Amenam/Kpono is a field straddling oil mining leases (OML) 99 and 70 operated by TotalFinaElf and ExxonMobil, respectively has reserve potentials of 500 million barrels, and a production level of 130,000 barrels per day when on stream. Hook up activities commenced in September 2002 and production is expected to begin in July 2003.

Feb. 16, 2003
This Day
Onshore/Offshore Bill: We Are Satisfied - S/South Parliamentary Caucus
From Chuks Okocha in Abuja

South-South Parliamentary Caucus of the National Assembly has expressed satisfaction with the new bill sent to the National Assembly by President Olusegun Obasanjo. The group, however, demanded explanations on what becomes of revenue to be derived from the ultra deep oil exploration.

The Chairman of the caucus, Hon. Uduesse Essien, made the position of the group known to THISDAY in Abuja yesterday.

"For the purposes of sharing the 13 percent derivation, the new proposals of the President that the contiguous and economic zones be replaced with the 200 meters water depth isobaths is acceptable to us," Essien said.

However, he said that the caucus would want to know what becomes of the revenue that would be derived from the ultra deep-sea exploration.

"How would the Niger Delta states benefit from the revenue accruing from this area? Who takes it and would the revenue from this region be distributed. That is our concern," he added.

He dismissed the claims that Agip is the only company involved in the Ultra Deep Exploration with its Abo Field, adding "Chevron is also involved and there are two big commercial wells involved in the ultra deep oil exploration."

THISDAY had exclusively reported last week that the details of the new agreement between President Olusegun Obasanjo and the governors of the littoral states over the controversial on shore/off shore dichotomy bill indicates that the Federal Government may have agreed to grant the states a concession of 200 meter water depth Isobaths into the high sea.

Also, part of the agreement reveals that the 200 meters will operate from coast to coast while the major oil companies like Shell, Elf, Mobil and Agip among others will be allowed to concentrate in what is termed "Ultra Deep Exploration."

A Presidency source had told THISDAY that the affected littoral states could only derive revenue from the "coast up to 200 meter depth Isobaths into the high sea, while the demarcation into ultra deep exploration will be left for the Federal Government for the purposes of calculating the federal revenue."

And to concretise the agreement, President Obasanjo in a letter to the Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na'Abba dated February 5, 2003 and titled "Allocation of Revenue (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Application of Principles of Derivation) Bill 2002" proposed that the phrase Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic zone be replaced with "200 meter water depth isobaths."

Daily Trust
February 17, 2003

Onshore/Offshore is a settled matter -Obasanjo
From Abubakar Yakubu, in Port Harcourt

As part of his plan to gain the support of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stronghold in the South-South geopolitical zone, President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Saturday that the controversial on- shore/offshore dichotomy issue "has been settled".

At the flagging off of the Obasanjo/Atiku campaign rally which held at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the president hinted the people of the South-South zone that he had consulted with their governors on the controversial issue, heard their views and had made certain amendments.

He said the remaining job on the amended bill rests with the National Assembly where he had sent it for final ratification.

He explained that there was need to be careful in dealing with the issue as it affects the oneness of the country, He further explained that ratifying the bill in its former state would rather plunge the nation into a fresh round of crisis. Earlier in his welcome address, the host governor, Dr. Peter Odili, had implied that the people would want to hear from the president his resolve on the issue when he said "we believe that you know that we deserve the best that Nigeria can offer".

Welcoming the president and all that came for the campaign, Governor Peter Odili reminded the crowd that the presidency received the best support from the zone during the last elections and promised that they are ready to do a repeat of that this year.

The coordinator of the party in the South-South zone, Chief Tony Anenih, assured that just like the zone has always taken lead in the ‘business’ the party in the zone is poised to do better, capturing all levels at the elections.

The chairman of the party, Chief Audu Ogbeh, thanked the people of the zone for all they have done to support the country in the last 40 years.

The event had party stalwarts in attendance including the six governors of the South-South states.

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