By Francisca Oluyole
The Federal Government is set to inaugurate a “Made-in-Nigeria barite” on the 28th of October, to save the $300 million being spent annually on its importation.
Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on Monday in Abuja.
Adegbite said that the inauguration, scheduled to hold in Port-Harcourt, would be a great achievement to the country and it would also save Forex for Nigeria.
“Barite is a mineral used in the oil and gas industry and Nigeria has the mineral all over the country, especially in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Plateau, Gombe and Cross River states.
He said that 50 bags of barite milled would be showcased at the inauguration, adding that the mineral meant for the oil and gas industry was produced to meet American Petroleum Institute (API) standard set for oil industries.
“We have 50 bags as samples that have been produced and labelled proudly ‘Made-in-Nigeria’. What we have done as a ministry is to create linkages from the mines to the millers to the baggage and the market.
“Nigeria has been spending the US$ 300 million annually importing barite but this must stop; we will go to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to protect barite local market.
“There are two ways to this, the council in its wisdom may ban the importation of barite outrightly, that is one way or the council will choose tariff protection for the local barite.
“Now, Nigeria is ready to supply the local users with barite and also to export to other oil-producing countries such as Ghana, South Africa to earn foreign exchange through exportation,’’ he said.
According to him, the process is tedious but the ministry can achieve this in less than two years they assumed office.
“The API standard says for barite to be used in the oil and gas industry, it must meet a minimum of 4.1 gravity, the barite we have in Nigeria is from 3.8 to 4.8 gravity, that means we have some that exceeded API standard.
“We will blend the 3.8 with the 4.8 gravity then we will get the average of 4.5 gravity and there about, that means we are above the 4.1 API minimum standard requirement.
“Also, we have sensitised our miners on the API standard and the barite must be blended to an acceptable powder of 0.3 macra, it must be a fine powder, if it is less than, it will hang on the drilling rig.
“We are also carrying various stakeholders along and with the local content body in the oil industry set up by the Government; the body will be in Port Harcourt for the inauguration.’’
He said that an online portal that would connect all these people and the users has been set up to block the import of the product, as many of them would still prefer to import the mineral.
“We have set up the price per kilogramme, we set up our price well below as an offer to the market for a start.
“We don’t want it to be a government thing that is why the portal is set up to run on its own.
“With the portal set up, the miner gets its money from the portal once it supplies the barite, the millers get what is due to them and the person supplying the bags gets his money to enable them to pay a royalty to the government.
Meanwhile, he added that the achievement would encourage more miners to come into the industry and invest, adding that it would also create job opportunities for the youth.
Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, described the inauguration as a giant milestone for the ministry, the Federal government and Nigerians.