Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Honourable Minister for Science and Technology

Minister urges improved investment in bitumen production to conserve Nigeria’s Forex earnings

*The Federal Government says with the foreign exchange earnings as the prices of crude oil drop in the international market, there is a need to find alternative sources of bitumen in the country

*We cannot have huge deposits of bitumen natural sands and yet continue to import bitumen from other countries ─Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Honourable Minister for Science and Technology

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For Nigeria to conserve foreign exchange (Forex) earnings in view of the decreasing crude oil prices in the international market, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Honourable Minister for Science and Technology, has called for greater investments in local production of bitumen for road construction as the country currently spends a lot on product importation.

The Minister made the call Tuesday, April 27 at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Nigeria Building and Road Research Institute’s (NBRRI), first virtual international conference in Abuja, FCT, agency report stated.

Photo: FineLib.Com

Dr. Onu noted at the conference with the theme, “Circular Economy in the Building Environment for Enhanced Performance of the Nigerian Construction Industry”, that sequel to the reduction in foreign exchange earnings as the prices of crude oil drop at international market, there is a need to find alternative sources of bitumen.

The Minister said this development would also encourage the use of concrete in road construction.

He stated: “Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world and it covers four states of Edo, Ondo, Ogun, and Lagos.

“It is estimated that bitumen reserves cannot be less than 42 billion barrels, out of which 43 industrial chemicals including heavy crude petroleum, can be obtained.”

Onu urged that the private sector should be brought in to invest in local bitumen production.

All necessary incentives should be provided for this to happen, he said.

The Minister further stressed that “we cannot have huge deposits of bitumen natural sands and yet continue to import bitumen from other countries.

“This does not make sense and should not be allowed to continue.”

According to him, if people in business, who currently import bitumen into the country would consider investing in local production, this would help to boost local bitumen demand in the country.

Mr. William Wadni, Chairman of Governing Board of NBRRI, earlier in his welcome address, said that the Nigerian construction industry was one of the fastest-growing in the world.

Wadni stressed that to maintain its impressive performance, it was imperative that the industry be repositioned to enable it compete with its contemporaries globally.

Dr. Mohammed Abdullahi, Minister of State for Science and Technology, in his goodwill message, said it was impressive that the 2021 conference sought solution to eradication of waste in the building industry.

“I hope this platform will sensitise professionals and experts in the industry on the opportunities offered by Presidential Executive Order 5 and support its full implementation,’’ Abdullahi said.

Mr. Edet Akpan, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, said the conference was apt and in line with global context.

“When scientists and engineers are pulled together, the best will be achieved. A knowledge-based economy is something all must be carried along,’’ Akpan said.

ConsumerConnect reports the Nigerian Government has estimated that the possible reserve of bitumen in Ondo State, in the South-West,  is 16 billion barrels, while that of tar sands and heavy oil is estimated at 42 billion barrels, approximately 120km, the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world.

Kindly Share This Story