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Ondo set to begin exploitation of bitumen

Ondo set to begin exploitation of bitumen
July 27
12:17 2020

The South West Bitumen Exploration Limited (SWB), an indigenous company, is set to commence modular exploitation of bitumen in Ondo state. 

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The operational base is located at Lamidifa in Irele local government area of the state.

Bitumen, which used for road surfacing and roofing, is a black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation.

Adeiya Oluwatominiyi, an engineer at the company who spoke with journalists over the weekend, said unlike the exploitation of petroleum, the bitumen is in tar sand which can be excavated from the topsoil and taken to the yard for processing.

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He said earth moving equipment like bulldozers, excavators and wheel loaders have been acquired for the mining of the mineral resource.

“The processing equipment are German-made and done with the exact requirement for the exploitation of the particular type of bitumen in the state,” he said.

“We have brought the earth moving equipment like the bulldozer, escavator and the wheel loaders. We use bulldozer for the clearing of the identified outcrop after which we take the escavator to extract the tar sand and stockpile them in the yard for processing.

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“The type of bitumen we have is tar sand. After we must have deployed the bulldozer, the escalator will load the tipper and bring it here for processing. This is where we will be doing the processing. This is a pilot case. It is modular exploitation.

“What we have in Nigeria is tar sand bitumen. Not like in petroleum when you are tapping from it to get bitumen. We are not getting it from the cracking of anything. What we need to do is to heat it with the required technology.”

Wilfred Akinyeke, the company’s mining engineer, said the firm is targeting an output of 50,000 tonnes monthly.

Also speaking, Donald Ojogo, the state commissioner for information and orientation, said the administration of Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor, has been pursuing the exploitation of the bitumen and the establishment of the deep seaport.

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Ojogo noted that the bitumen exploitation has started taking shape in the state, adding that this is the first time any government in the state will expend resources on the exploitation.

“What they are trying to do is a pilot project. This is the first time any company will expend so much on this project. This is the first time a company will take the licence and efforts and commitment would be seen unlike in the past where people take the licence and go home to sleep,” Ojogo said.

“As a state, what we require is bitumen exploitation and deep seaport. We are into this now and it is very reassuring that Governor Akeredolu will not rest until this is achieved.

“I know with what they have done, more and more firms will be ready to invest in this. It’s not easy to deploy this kind of technology and equipment. In a matter of six, seven months, we will be getting large production of bitumen from here.”

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In January, the federal government set up a committee to work out modalities on the exploitation and exploration of bitumen resources as part of efforts to diversify the economy.

Nigeria has an estimated reserve of about 42.74 billion metric tonnes of bitumen.

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