|NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru|
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has suspended exploration for crude oil in the Lake Chad Basin, situated in parts of Borno State, following attacks on its workers and some military personnel by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, said the exercise had to be put on hold until the military could give the corporation sufficient clearance to resume oil search in the region.
Kachikwu, who commiserated with the families of those killed by the insurgents, however, stated that the corporation got the necessary clearance from security agencies before embarking on the trip that led to the death of scores of persons on Tuesday.
“The reality is that anytime the NNPC decides to go into a terrain, it first gets the privilege of security advice and that security advice, I can say, was sufficiently cleared,” he said.
He regretted that the team was ambushed by terrorists, but insisted that no work would be done at the site anytime soon.
Kachikwu spoke to journalists at the headquarters of the NNPC in Abuja on Thursday.
The oil found in commercial quantity in neighbouring Chad Republic had encouraged the NNPC, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, to intensify and focus its exploratory work in the inland basin on the Chad Basin and Benue Trough areas.
In November 2016, the corporation resumed exploration activities in Gubio, Magumeri, Monguno, Kukawa, Abadam, Guzamala and Mobar, after getting security advice from the military.
Kachikwu stated that after sufficient advice from the military to resume exploratory activities on the site, which passes through Borno State, the corporation in 2016embarked on the venture despite the risk in order to grow the country’s crude oil reserves.
“Certainly, we will not go back unless they (military) give us a clearance, just like we didn’t go in before they gave us a clearance,” the minister said.