Fast-track oil exploration in the North, Buhari orders NNPC

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to fast-track oil exploration in the North, specifically in the Chad Basin and Kolmani River.

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, stated that the President’s directive to the corporation to speed up its oil exploration efforts in the region followed the reported discovery of hydrocarbons by Shell in the Chad Basin and Kolmani River.

Baru, who disclosed this while hosting the Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, at the headquarters of the NNPC in Abuja on Monday, explained that the order was with a view to making the most of the reported hydrocarbon deposits in the region.

The NNPC boss noted that the directive had been heeded, as the corporation’s Frontier Exploration Services had retooled to commence exploration with the Northern Nigeria Development Company.

The NNDC, Baru said, had already started prospecting for oil in the basin.

He said, “Very close home, we have exploration activities on the frontier basin, that is in the Chad; and also there are some areas close to the Kolmani River where Shell had made indicative discovery of hydrocarbons and Mr. President has directed me to go into that area to reprove and 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 NNDC that is holding Block 809 where some of the finds have been found. We will also do the same at the DPR for the other blocks that have not been assigned, and work towards proving the prospects of that region.”

Baru told his guests that the national oil firm was willing to collaborate with state governments, but stressed that the industry was facing a difficult time as a result of vandalism of key infrastructure.

“Now is a very difficult time for us with all the challenges of the leakages that we suffer from infractions of our infrastructure, in terms of pipeline vandalism and theft, to be able to meet obligations to the Federation Account Allocation Committee. We will continue to meet this obligation timely and effectively as much as possible,” he said.

The GMD urged the governor to lend to the corporation his government’s support in protecting and securing petroleum infrastructure.

“A critical area of support that we will implore you is the security of our pipelines that transverse the state from Jos through Bauchi to Gombe and onwards to Maiduguri and Yola. There have been reported vandalism and we will request you to assist us with the necessary security surveillance to ensure that such acts are brought down,” he stated.

Abubakar had earlier stated that he was at the corporation to felicitate with Baru on his appointment to head the NNPC, as well as affirm the state’s support for him.

He said, “We have come to congratulate Dr. Maikanti Baru for attaining the very prestigious position of the Group Managing Director of the NNPC. We felt it incumbent to be the first to come to the NNPC to congratulate the GMD.

“We are aware of the situation of oil in the international market; everybody is also aware of the internal challenges we are facing in the country. We are hopeful and prayerful that we will surmount the internal problems and the price of oil will pick up in the international market.”