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Nigeria’s under explored and poorly understood frontier basins include the Nigeria, Chad, Bida, Dahomey, Sokoto, and Benue basins. They have their origins in the multi-phased rift systems that were formed during the breakup of Gondwanaland in Early Cretaceous time. The rifting is widely attributed to the stretching and subsidence of the African crustal blocks accompanied by reactivated plate movements in the early Tertiary. These basins are part of the West African Rift Subsystem (WARS) of the West and Central African Rift Systems (CARS).

The Chad basin, the largest, is an intracratonic rift basin having an area of 2,335,000 km2 that covers Chad, Niger, Cameroun Republics, and the northeastern part of Nigeria. Only about 10% of the Chad basin lies within Nigeria. It is a two-stage rift basin comparable with the petroliferous south Chad basins (Doba, Doseo) by having (A) a Lower Bima early rift stage generated by east–west gravity faults of Albo-Aptian age, followed by an Upper Bima Sag phase (Albian); and (b) an Upper Cretaceous rift phase with deposition of lower Fika source rocks followed by a mild Tertiary sag phase corresponding to the sedimentation of Lower Kerri Kerri and Chad formations. Of the 23 dry wells drilled in the Chad basin, only the Wadi-1 and Kinasar-1 wells recorded non-commercial gas accumulations. Three possible petroleum systems have been mooted. The petroleum systems of this and other Nigeria frontier basins are discussed. Suggestions are made for the successful search for hydrocarbons in these basins.

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