The Federal Government has beckoned on national and international investors interested in the development of the nation’s 42 billion barrels of bitumen reserves.

Speaking at a virtual event organised by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Dr. Abdulrasaq Garbar, said Nigeria holds the sixth largest reserves of bitumen in the world.

At the session, which was organised in collaboration with PwC Nigeria, Garbar also provided geo-scientific data and other information to guide investors.

The Director-General, Mining Cadastre and Chairman, Bitumen Committee, Obadiah Simon, reiterated that Nigeria was blessed with mineral resources which have remained untapped.

“Tremendous successes have been recorded but there are many more opportunities for improvement, particularly regarding the bitumen resource. This has remained unexploited for years thereby creating a massive opportunity for domestic production of bitumen in lieu of the country’s bitumen importation,” Simon said.

Also, Leader, Mining Practice, PwC Nigeria, Cyril Azobu, explained that the firm’s mandate on the Bitumen programme to ensure uniqueness and peculiarity of the exploration, development, and extraction of bitumen.

He, therefore, said only suitably qualified local and international investors will be chosen to execute Bitumen development to a meaningful extraction level.

“This will be through a transparent and competitive procurement process as enshrined in the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007, and in line with global best industry practices,” Azobu said.

He also said in the seven-month bidding, which will span May to November, this year, local and international investors are expected to prepare a Request for Qualification application and send it to Bitumen.ngsa.gov.ng.

According to him, the application consists of six credentials which include experience in Bitumen testing, Bitumen refining capabilities, as well as Bitumen exploration and extraction.

In addition, investors are also needed to comply with applicable environmental, social, and governance sustainability guidelines; have balance sheet assets exceeding $25 million; and lastly, technical and financial capability to execute feasibility studies.

The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development had in last November, appointed PwC as Transaction Adviser/Programme Manager to oversee the selection of bidders for the development of Nigeria’s defined Bitumen blocks through a competitive tender procedure.

Bitumen, the hydrocarbon obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation, is used largely for road surfacing and roofing. The global market is estimated to be around $110 billion.