*As Bill passes 2nd reading
By Ignatius Okorocha
As the nation intensifies effort toward broadening its revenue generation sources, the Senate on Wednesday considered “a bill for an Act to establish the Institute of Bitumen Management to provide courses of instructions, training and research in bitumen Technology and to produce technicians and other skilled personnel required to run the industry.”
Specifically, the piece of legislation, sponsored by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP Ondo South), was passed for Second Reading during the plenary.
Leading debate on the bill, Tofowomo said that the establishment of the Institute has become necessary because “the bitumen in Nigeria is the largest in Africa”, explaining that the mineral resource is “found in massive quantities mainly in the South West part of the country, especially in the Tar sand of Ilubirin, Loda and Agbabu in Ondo State.”
According to him, Nigeria has an approximated estimate bitumen reserve of 42.74billion metric tonnes.
He said: “Bitumen deposit extend around 120kms approximately. In Ondo South, the estimate of amount of bitumen available for extraction is about 16billion barrels.”
The lawmaker listed Seepages, outcrops of bitumen Tar sand and lower viscous bitumen as the basic concentration of the mineral in Ondo South.
Tofowomo also informed that bitumen deposit in Ondo covers Odigbo, Okitipupa and Irele Local Government Areas of the state, adding that Ondo South has the second largest deposit in the world after Venezuela.
He further stated that “bitumen importation has been significant in Nigeria since military administration of General Yakubu Gowon and it has taken significant effect on our foreign exchange”, disclosing that the mineral is used for many things, including road construction and housing, among others.
The lawmaker, therefore, said that the establishment of the Institute “would harmonise all the past stride and research made on bitumen exploration since 1905 and come up with a solid foundation for economic exploration of bitumen in Nigeria.”
He added that “the enactment of this bill will help transforming the bitumen potentials as well as fortunes in Nigeria in producing the desired manpower and expertise to drive the bitumen industry just like the Petroleum Training Institute is doing with the petroleum industry.”
Concluding the debate, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Solid Minerals, chaired by Senator Tanko Al-makura for further legislative work and to report back within four weeks.