The Corporation, therefore, appealed to oil and gas exploration companies, professionals and other stakeholders to focus on increasing the nation’s oil and gas reserve base.

The NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Maikanti Baru, stated this in Abuja when the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) hosted him.

He said the reserve base has to be upped to match national aspirations to increase oil production.

Baru also expressed the readiness of the NNPC to partner with stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to grow the nation’s fast depleting reserves in order to increase productivity in the petroleum sector.

He said: "Our national gas demand forecast to year 2020, domestic plus export, indicates a rapid growth to 15 billion Standard Cubic Feet per day (bscfd), meaning current reserves level can only sustain that production for 35 years, if we do not increase the 2bscfd gas reserves base which requires three trillion cubic feet (tcf) to replace production yearly."

With the country's drive for industrialisation risking truncation, Baru stated that the country’s aspirations are to increase oil production to four million barrels per day and meet the gas demand of 15 billion standard cubic feet per day, bscfd, by 2020, required for industrialisation and consumption.

He lamented that less than three percent of all oil wells drilled in the Niger Delta Basin, both onshore and swamp, are deeper than 15,000 feet.

He added that a greater number of these wells have not gone beyond the 10,000 feet as a high-pressure regime seems to be a limiting factor.

Baru, however, said, "some of our earlier drilled non-commercial holes could be turned around if we deploy requisite technologies; we need to change our perspective of risk as technology is advancing."

He  explained that the 2016 national average oil production of 1.9 million barrels was low, partly due to oil infrastructure vandalism.

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According to him,  there is the need for stakeholders to share data and use common available resources to reduce the cost of operations in the area of rig-sharing, vessel sharing and synergy in projects development.

This, he said, has become even expedient in this era of low oil prices and security challenges.

Baru further added that NNPC is progressing in exploration efforts in the Chad Basin, the Benue trough and other frontier basins to shore up the country's reserve base.