John Shiklam in Kaduna
Notwithstanding the security concerns in the North-east, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that it will return to the Lake Chad Basin in Borno State to continue the search for crude oil.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed this Wednesday, saying that with the release of the staff of the corporation who were abducted while exploring for oil in the area, it will return “with full force” to continue with exploration activities.
Some lecturers of the University of Maiduguri (Unimaid) who were contracted by NNPC, were abducted last June by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
They did not regain their freedom till recently, following negotiations with the terrorists.
Speaking at the NNPC Day at the 39th edition of the Kaduna International Trade Fair, Baru said the corporation has also intensified exploration activities in the Benue trough.
According to him, the corporation will explore for oil in Benue, Nasarawa, Niger and Sokoto States, adding that with what the corporation has seen so far, it was sure of success.
He said the NNPC has been working tirelessly on the Lake Chad Basin, adding: “We thank the president (Muhammadu Buhari) for rescuing some of our lecturers that were involved in exploration in the region. We are going back to the Chad Basin with full force.”
He said although the oil and gas industry has been the main stay of the Nigerian economy, providing 95 per cent of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, the major challenge in the country’s monoculture economy is that it exposes the nation to the vagaries of oil price volatility, which during a period of glut could spell doom for the country.
While emphasising on the need for diversification of the country’s economy, Baru said: “The feat achieved decades ago in mining, agriculture and commerce which even sustained the economy of each region of the country can be replicated if we re-channel the country’s productive sector.”
Baru pointed out that the NNPC was poised to provide the enabling environment for the nation to optimise its commercial, industrial and agricultural potential to attain a competitive edge in these sectors. “This is a commitment which we shall continue to abide by,” he said.
“To demonstrate our commitment, the NNPC has set up the Renewable Energy Division that is focused in not only developing solar and other renewable energy sources but also in the development of biofuels that are heavily dependent on agricultural produce as feedstock.
“The multiplier effect in such ventures are enormous: reviving and revitalising our agricultural sector, huge employment generation, significant contributions to power generation, high volume of animal feed, starch and by-products, in addition, biofuels will be blended at our refineries for petroleum products, which will significantly reduce the import of petroleum products into the country,” he noted.
He said the country needs to focus on undertaking a holistic policy action towards rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, which he acknowledged was not in a great shape.
He said the NNPC had taken steps to ensure that the hiccups witnessed recently in the distribution of petroleum products are overcome.
Some of the steps taken, according to him, include the full deployment and activation of a 24-hour real time fuel war room for the effective monitoring of fuel supply and distribution dynamics across the country; sustenance of 24 hours loading and sales operations in all depots and mega stations; and collaboration with and sharing information with the oil industry regulators and other agencies in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.