By Grace Obike, Abuja
Bitumen reserves in the country have grown to about 42 billion barrels out of which 43 industrial chemicals, including heavy crude petroleum, can be obtained, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said on Tuesday.
He added that despite the level of reserves, the country spends so much on the import of bitumen for road construction when the country has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sand in the world.
The minister said the Nigeria Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI) has already carried out research and development towards achieving fully paved roads using local bitumen.
He spoke in Abuja at the NBRRI first virtual international conference with the theme: “Circular economy in the built environment for enhanced performance of the Nigerian construction industry.”
He said: “Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world and it covers four states of Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos. Nigeria spends so much on the importation of bitumen for our roads. With reduction in foreign exchange earnings for the nation, due to the drop in price of crude oil in the international market, there is the need to find alternative sources of bitumen as well as to encourage the use of concrete in road construction. Nigeria has one of the largest deposits of bitumen natural sands in the world.
“Nigeria’s bitumen deposit covers four states of Edo, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos. It is estimated that bitumen reserves cannot be less than 42 billion barrels, out of which 43 industrial chemicals, including heavy crude petroleum, can be obtained.
“I am happy that NBRRI has already carried out research and development efforts towards achieving fully paved roads using locally sourced bitumen. Its research efforts covered materials sourcing, laboratory characterisation and field trials of these materials. Though the trials are ongoing, the interim results are promising as bitumen samples collected locally are suitable for road construction based on comparison with international standards.
“It is also important, that NBRRI had done research on the use cement which is produced from limestone and gypsum that are available in large quantities in the country for road construction.
NBRRI carried out research work on concrete roads, particularly in developing its Mix Design Manual which was carried out in collaboration with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and other relevant stakeholders in the construction sector. The Mix Design Manual provides a step by step procedure for carrying out mixed designs for the various grades of concrete. Also, NBRRI has continuously carried out quality control testing of cement brands in Nigeria.”
NBRRI board chairman Hon. William Wandi said the construction industry has been identified as one of the fastest growing around the world and to maintain its impressive performance, it is imperative that the industry is repositioned so it continues to compete with its contemporaries globally.