How To Make Money In The Oil And Gas Exploration Business In Nigeria
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Numerous Ways To Make Money In The Oil And Gas Exploration Business In Nigeria

Nigeria has a robust oil and gas exploration sector due to its vast oil reserves. This sector provides many opportunities for entrepreneurs to generate income. This article outlines some lucrative options to earn from Nigeria’s oil and gas exploration business with little capital.

1. Register an Oil Exploration Company

One of the most profitable ways is to establish an oil exploration company. However, it requires massive funds for exploration activities, equipment, personnel salaries, etc. However small enterprises can still thrive by offering specialized services to big explorers.

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Company Registration

The initial step is to register the company with the Corporate Affairs Commission and obtain all requisite licenses from the Department of Petroleum Resources. Comply with the policies of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board.

Raise Funds

Raising capital for oil exploration is challenging but partners can be found. Make an investor presentation highlighting management expertise, exploration strategy, and financial projections. Target industry investors and encourage small individual investments.

Outsource Exploration Work

Leverage limited funds through outsourcing exploration activities on a partners-shared cost basis. Hire reputed geologists, acquire 3D seismic data, and drill exploration wells in partnership to evaluate prospects and monetize any successful finds through Joint Venture agreements.


2. Oilfield Services

Alternatively, provide specialized outsourced services to oil companies since exploring firms rely on external expertise. This sector involves low startup capital.

Catering Services

Establish a catering outfit to supply food and provisions to rig sites. Arrange transport and ensure hygienic cooking facilities for field staff.

Equipment Rentals

Purchase and lease rigs, workover units, mud pumps, casing pipes, etc. on a daily rental basis. Ensure equipment safety certifications.

Logistics Support

Offer haulage of rig components, tubular, chemicals, and camp materials using owned trucks. Provide transportation solutions to remote exploration locations.


3. Consultancy

Leverage specialized expertise and experience by offering consultancy services to oil companies. This requires minimal capital and paperwork.

Geological Consultancy

Evaluate exploration prospects, interpret seismic data, and audit field operations by experienced geologists on a project or retainer basis.

Technical Advisory

Offer engineering solutions – selecting optimal rigs, drilling fluid formulas, well stability analysis, production optimization techniques, etc.

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HSE Compliance

Ensure client adherence to global exploration best practices, conduct job safety analysis, and inspect facilities to prevent incidents and minimize environmental liabilities.


4. Brokerage

Act as a broker by connecting buyers and sellers of oilfield assets, equipment, and services. Charge a brokerage fee on successful deals.

Equipment Brokerage

List used or surplus rigs, pumps, tubular, mud pumps, etc. for sale on industry portals and introduce buyers to sellers internationally.

Service Brokerage

Match explorers requiring specific technical assistance like geophysical acquisition, and mud logging with competent local vendors.


5. Leverage Government Initiatives

The Nigerian Government incentivizes local participation in the oil sector. Several fiscal policies encourage indigenous investments.

Marginal Field Bid Round

Periodically, DPR auctions rights to develop marginal fields with low reserves through a competitive bidding process awarding to competent bidders.

NCDF Projects

The Nigerian Content Development Fund finances up to 70% project value of qualified Nigerian oil services firms.

6. Oil Recovery Business

Establish a production enhancement venture through secondary recovery techniques like water injection to stimulate depleted reservoirs of marginal field allottees.

Drill Injection Wells

Drill horizontal and vertical wells to inject water and maintain reservoir pressure raising crude volumes over time through enhanced oil recovery.

Procure Injection Equipment

Import or assemble water pumps, manifolds, and pipelines required for secondary recovery projects ensuring quality specs.


7. Downstream Opportunities

The distribution segment presents viable options to earn from oil marketing and trading.

Lubricant Blending

Set up a small plant to package and distribute blended automotive and industrial lubricating oils nationwide.

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Petrol Stations

Invest in retail outlets in cities to supply fuels, kerosene, cylinder gas, and lube oils to motorists, genset operators, and households.

Invest in Oil Stocks and Funds

Directly own shares of listed Nigerian oil giants with proven reserves or invest in mutual funds focused on energy assets.

Research Companies

Analyze financials, reserves, and production growth of Seplat, Oando, and Africa Oil Corp before investing long-term.

Mutual Funds

Subscribe to energy sector funds managed by reputed firms making diversified energy sector plays minimizing individual stock risk.


Frequently Asked Questions

What permits are required to operate in the Nigerian oil sector?

Vital licenses include DPR permits based on business activities, NCDMB certification, Environmental Impact Assessment approval, Tax Clearance Certificate, and registration with relevant government agencies.

What are the major risks involved in oil exploration?

Risks include dry wells, cost overruns, reserves downgrade, installation failures, environmental hazards, security issues, regulatory changes, and volatility in crude prices impacting profits.

How long does it take to incorporate an oil company in Nigeria?

On average, company registration takes 1-2 weeks upon submission of complete documents to the Corporate Affairs Commission depending on workload.

Can an individual participate in the marginal fields bid round?

Yes, individuals are allowed albeit they must demonstrate adequate technical and financial capabilities to DPR given field responsibilities.

What are some key tips for success in the Nigerian oil sector?

Focus on relationships, train local staff, comply with local content laws, partner competent service firms, insure assets, maintain positive community engagement, and weather regulatory changes.

Can foreigners invest directly in the Nigerian oil E&P business?

Yes, but through incorporated JV companies with a minimum of 10% Nigerian equity participation as direct investments in exploration are currently reserved for indigenous investors only.



The Nigerian oil sector holds immense potential wealth for entrepreneurs ready to navigate initial challenges. With pragmatic strategies, even individuals with limited capital can generate sustainable incomes while contributing to the country’s energy security. Proper planning and compliance with regulations are key to success in this advantageous but complex industry.


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