By FESTUS OKOROMADU, OTUNG GABRIEL, Abuja and FRANCIS OKOYE, Maiduguri
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) hinted yesterday that it will resume oil exploration activities in the Chad Basin within the next six weeks.
It said with the military conquest of former enclaves of the Boko Haram insurgents, the coast was now clear for oil exploration in the area.
The NNPC added that the resumption, which will be done in the next six weeks, is based on assurance by the Nigerian Armed Forces that there will be adequate security, relative peace, following the degrading of the Boko Haram sect in the North-east sub-region.
The move, according to Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, will increase the nation’s crude oil production from the current 1.9million barrels per day (bpd) to 3million bpd as well as increasing its oil and gas reserves.
Baru disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima and the Shehu of Borno, Alh (Dr.) Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, in Maiduguri.
He noted that, to meet the earmarked target, it was expedient to explore for more oil within and across some of the nation’s inland basins.
The Corporation’s spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, quoted the GMD who was represented by the chief operating officer, Gas & Power, Engr. Saidu Mohammed, as saying: “We have been discussing with military authorities in the area and they have assured us of improved security. Once they give us the green light, we would resume operations in the area within six weeks”.
The GMD commended efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the state governor in the area toward peace restoration, reconstruction and rehabilitation, stressing that as a responsible corporate citizen, the corporation was ready to provide support in that regard.
At the Shehu of Borno’s palace, the GMD sought the fatherly support of the traditional ruler, especially in the area of host community understanding towards the resumption of oil exploration activities within the state.
In his address Governor Shettima said insurgency had taken a huge toll on the North East region, leading to the loss of over $9.6bn, with Borno State alone losing $5.6bn.
“We need your support in our reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts, so that when the history of the new Borno is written, NNPC’s name will be written in gold”, he stated.
He stressed that much as the international donor agencies and good-spirited organisations like the NNPC were keen on helping the IDPs, the state’s ultimate target was to resettle the IDPs in their various communities.
On his part, the Shehu of Borno, Garbai El-Kanemi, thanked the NNPC management for identifying with the Borno people, even as he urged the corporation to do more for the betterment of Nigerians.
He expressed delight over the peace being enjoyed across the state and the entire North-east, noting that in the nearest future, “Borno people will survive the onslaught of the insurgency”.
FG Won’t Interfere In Malabu Probe – Kachikwu
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said the federal government will not intervene in the ongoing legal tussle bordering on the Malabu Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL 245 scandal.
This is contained in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Olanrewaju Suraju.
The organization had written the minister, warning the government against compromising investigation and prosecution of Malabu, following his (Kachikwu’s) recent endorsement of ENI on his recent trip to Italy.
Kachikwu had disclosed that the Zabazaba deepwater project in OPL 245 will continue in spite of controversies surrounding the oil block.
The minister stated this, while addressing journalists on the sidelines of the annual Offshore Technology Conference in Houston Texas, United States, earlier this month.