Bitumen and Tarsands - Procurement, exploration & prospecting for raw materials

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Bitumen/TarsandsTarsand
GEOLOGICAL SETTING BENIN (DAIIOMEY) BASIN
Tarsands occurrences in the Benin (Dahomey) Basin are restricted to the eastern portion of the basin (the Okitipupa structure) and are contained in generally Upper Cretaceous sediments. These sediments onlap an the crystalline basement complex rocks of Precambrian age.The Benin Basin constitutes part of a system of West African margin basin developed during a brief period of rifting in the late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous, associated with the Benin Trough Complex. lt was accompanied by an extended period of thermally induced basin subsidence through the Middle to Upper Cretaceous to Tertiary times as the South American and African plate entered a drift phase. The onshore portion of the basin covers a broad arc-shaped profile approximately 2600 km, attaining a maximum width of 65 km at the basin axis along the Nigerian border with the Republic of Benin. lt narrows to about 25 km west and eastwards. lt is along its north eastern fringe (the Okitipupa Structure) that a band of tarsand (oilsand) and bitumen seepage occurs.
Exploration opportunities in Nigeria
Market Prospect and Applicationtarsand
The only scource of bitumen at present in Nigeria is the Kaduna Refinery which processes imported heavy crude. This is insufficient for domestic needs, thus, Nigeria imports bitumen to supplement her internal production. Extracted bitumen from the tarsand belt can be used as feedstock for the Kaduna Refinery; and for setting up other bitumen processing units to meet both domestic and West African sub┬Čregional needs. The bitumen is uniquely aromatic and naphthenic in composition, thus can be used for the manufacture of naphthenic base stocks for industries specializing in critical application products. Heavy and extra-heavy crude can be extracted from the Nigerian tarsands. This can be upgraded to synthetic crude oil or syncrude specification tailored as feed stock to refineries. Sulphur and phenol can be derived from it. Laboratory tests have shown that specification grade grease within NLGI ciassification number 3 and 2 (i.e. soap and clay based respectively) suitable as lubricants for plain and rolle bearings, and as sealant can be made from the tarsand's oil.
Project Possibilities
Three potential project typen (PPT) are envisaged for the tarsand reso├╝rces.
1. Small Scale Project:Asphalt Concrete (Strip Mining)
Suitable for small-size scale prospect, using specification bitumen as a major component for road asphalt. Short-term execution period of three (3)years using strip-mining techniques.Production level: 150,000 metric tons/year. Bidders will obtain EPL and later Mining Lease (ML) or Quarrying Lease (QL).
2. Medium-sized Project: Synthetic Crude production-(In-situ Mining)
Mining at depths below 15Cirn using enhanced oll recovery technique (EOR) Time frame 5 years. Suitable for companies having foreign partners with technological know:how. Successful bidders will be granted EPL Projected production 10,000bbls/day
3. Large-size Project: Mega Mining Project (Open Mining)
Focus on tarsands activity within 30-50m of overburden. Open cast mining method Major experienced companies to invest in exploitation and full feasibility evaluation prior to commencement. Requires periods of about 15years to develop expected to produce modules of 50,000bpd of synthetic crude for export. Processing by water/solvent extraction method.
Environmental ConsiderationsEnviroment
Major environmental elements to be considered include:
The general low topography, lush vegetation, high rainfall, high humidity and dense drainage. The coincidence of the tarsands belt with a belt favourable for vegetable oil and rubber tree cultivation. The high level of groundwater, low permeability of soil, localised flooding and swamps. Occurrence of localised pressured bottom waters below the tarsand horizons.


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