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Over 30 Oil Wells Capped 65 Years Ago by Shell, Identified in Cross River 

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Etubom Nya Asuquo

Over 30 oil wells capped about 65 years ago by Shell Petroleum in Mbiabo Ikot Offiong community in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River state have been identified.

Pillar Today investigation revealed that the oil wells tucked in various locations in Ikot Offiong were identified recently by the Ikot Offiong Youths mobilized by the community  to identify all the  capped oil points drilled and capped by Shell in the fifties.

Consequently, the Youth Leader of Mbiabo Ikot Offiong, Asuquo Asuquo Joseph who led group of youths into the bush to search and identify the oil wells thanked God for the gift of nature and in an exclusive interview with Pillar Today, appealed to the Federal Government “to come in and ensure enduring peace in Ikot Offiong and Oku Iboku so that everyone will be in peace and harmony and develope the oil wells for the benefit of Ikot Offiong people and the state at large”.

He said, “because of the oil wells many youths have died and the time has come to embrace peace for the good of all”.

On his part, the Clan Head of Mbiabo Ikot Offiong,, Etubom Nya Asuquo told Pillar Today that “in the late fifties, Shell did some exploration work in our community and they buried about 30 exploration wells on our land. After they concluded work on the wells, they did what is known as 2-d siesmic and found out that the oil well there contained a lot of gas but less oil. 

“In the fifties, everybody was looking for oil and not gas and because there was more gas than oil in that field, they left it. Today, gas is more preferable and wanted all over the world than crude oil”.

Etubom Asuquo, the immediate past Nigerian Ambassador to Uganda stated, “over the past eight years, I been working to make sure that Cross River State becomes an oil producing state again. I have been working on it and I identified two oil fields in Cross River State, which i registered in what is now called NUPRC(a federal government entity that registers and gives licence for oil exploration). I registered two oil fields in the Nigerian Oil Concession Map in 2018 and the two oil fields il registered were OPL 2020, which is the oil field established in Ikot offiong territory and OPL 2021 which spans from Adiabo towards Akpabuyo. People do not know the genesis of the fight between ikot offiong and Oku iboku. The fight is as a result of the oil field that we have”.

One of the capped oil wells in Mbiabo Ikot Offiong

Going down memory lane, the former lawmaker that represented Calabar/Odukpani Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, pointed out that “when Brigadier U.J. Esuene was governor of Cross River State, he invited some oil executives from United States to do an oil survey in the whole of Cross River State (then Cross River and Akwa Ibom states) and one of the places they identified was my area” .

In view of this, Etubom Asuquo called on the Federal Government to urgently give an approval for exploration to commence in it’s two oil wells to boost the financial base of the state.

He said, “we have registered that oil field and I have been in discussions with our state governor, that he should take over the matter from where i have reached to the next level and that is for him to get Federal government to allocate those oil fields to companies because it is only the Federal government that has that power to allocate oil fields to companies for exploration. 

“I am informed that the state government has been working assiduously to achieving that, so I can assure you that I have registered two oil fields in Cross River State with the Nigerian Oil Concession Map and have named them OPL 2020 and OPL 2021 and we are now waiting for the Federal government to allocate them so that work can start”.

He said, “in the oil field that we have, which is OPL 2020, there is a lot of gas in it and gas is looked for in all parts of the world now. Somebody came all the way from Ukraine to have a meeting with me in my house last week because they are interested in the gas that is there and like I said, the governor is doing a lot in Abuja to get the field allocated and I tell people it is that field that would give Cross River State all the money they require for development because all developed countries are looking for gas”


In view of this healthy development in Mbiabo Ikot Offiong with determination to bouy the state’s finances, drive the exploration and mining of mineral resources in the State, with a view to bringing the state as a major player in global oil, gas and solid mineral development, Governor Basset Otu on Wednesday approved and directed the dissolution of the Task Force on Petroleum Monitoring in the state.

A press release dated August 23, 2023 and singed by the Parmanent Secretary (GAO), Dr. Innocent Eteng for the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Anthony Owan-Enoh, immediately announced  the creation of the “Cross River State Hydrocarbon and Solid Minerals Development Agency and the  appointment of Prince Ntui Ogar as Director-General of the Agency”

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