President Muhammadu Buhari has again ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to commence crude oil exploration activities in the North.
This is the second time in three weeks the NNPC would be receiving the express order.
This time, the President directed the NNPC to commence exploration in the Benue Trough. The Benue Trough is a major geological formation underlying a large part of Nigeria, extending about 1,000km North-East from the Bight of Benin to Lake Chad.
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed the President’s directive on the oil expolration in the North while receiving a delegation from the Benue State Government at the corporation’s headquarters in Abuja.
The NNPC boss in a statement from the corporation on Tuesday, said the new directive was in line with the current efforts to guarantee energy security of the country.
“Very close home, we have exploration activities on the Frontier Basin, that is in the Chad; and there are some areas close to the Kolmani River where Shell has made indicative discovery of hydrocarbons and Mr. President has directed me to go into that area to further explore the magnitude and prospects of those finds.
“We are taking steps to get into those regions. We will reinvigorate the frontier exploration and see how they collaborate with the Northern Nigeria Development Company that is holding Block 809 where some of the finds have been found. We will also do the same at the Department of Petroleum Resources for the other blocks that have not been assigned, and work towards proving the prospects of that region.”
About three weeks ago, the President had directed the corporation to speed up its prospect for oil in the region, specifically in the Chad Basin and Kolmani River, following the reported discovery of hydrocarbons by Shell in the area.
The 19 northern state governors are also fired up about the prospect of oil production in their domain as they have hired a British firm through the Northern Nigeria Development Company, which they jointly own, to carry out the exploration activities.
But energy analysts and several socio-cultural and other interest groups on Tuesday expressed divergent views on the pressure by the President on the NNPC as regards oil exploration in the North. Some expressed the view that the president should be focusing on diversifying the economy in light of the current crisis rocking oil prices in the global market.