How true is Akeredolu’s claim his administration started bitumen exploration in Nigeria?
By Qosim SuleimanCLAIM: Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State claimed his administration started bitumen exploration in Ondo state. VERDICT: True. Governor Rotimi Akeredolu's administration started the exploration of bitumen in the state.Full TextAhead of the October 10th Governorship Election in Ondo State, the two top contenders, incumbent Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Eyitayo Jegede, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), participated in a live debate organized by Channels Television.Barely an hour into the debate, on Wednesday night, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu claimed his administration started bitumen exploration in Ondo state. Dubawa verified how true this claim is."In our time. In our own very own time, bitumen exploration has started. We are the ones who facilitated it." he said.He added "South West Bitumen Exploration Limited is there not only for mining but exploration of bitumen"VerificationBitumen also referred to as Asphalt is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product; it is a substance classed as a pitch. In Nigeria, bitumen typically exists both on the surface and below the surface. The estimated reserves of bitumen in Ondo State is 16 billion barrels, almost as twice the amount of existing reserves of crude petroleum, according to information from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.The information from the ministry of mines also indicates that Nigeria has the second largest deposit of bitumen in the world, spanning approximately 120km. The primary use (70%) of asphalt/bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete. Its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs.Exploration of Bitumen in Ondo StateIn 2017, the Federal Government announced the award of a licence to Ondo State Government to mine its rich deposit of bitumen, said to be one of the largest in the world.The then Minister of Mines and Steels Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, made it known at the First Ondo State Investment Forum held at the International Event Centre, Akure, the state capital, reports the PUNCH.Fayemi said that the licence was granted to the state as part of the efforts of the federal government to diversify the economy and boost the country’s foreign exchange.In July 2020, for the first time, Ondo state took delivery of equipment from Europe to mine bitumen in partnership with a company, South West Bitumen Exploration Limited (SWB), TVC News Reports.According to the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, “In a matter of six or seven months, we will be getting large production of bitumen from here”, as reported by the Vanguard, Guardian, and TheNation. The bitumen region spans roughly four states -- Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, and Edo States, according to a study by Heinrich Böll Foundation Nigeria. However, Ondo State is the only state with a Bitumen Mining Licence.ConclusionTrue. For the first time, in July 2020, Ondo State, in partnership with a company, South West Bitumen Exploration Limited, took delivery of equipment from Europe to mine bitumen.