President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to begin to search for crude oil and gas from the Benue Trough, NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, disclosed tuesday. Baru said in Abuja that the president’s directive was part of efforts by his government to guarantee energy security for the country, through oil and gas mining from other parts of the country outside the Niger Delta. The directive however came few weeks after Buhari asked NNPC to resume oil and gas exploration in the Chad Basin.
Baru said then that the Chad Basin was prolific and would not be left untapped. He disclosed the president’s directive on the Benue Trough to a delegation of Benue State government that paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja. The outcome of the meeting was stated in a statement from the Group General Manager Public Affairs of the corporation, Mallam Garuba Deen Muhammad. However, reports indicate that the Benue Trough is a major geological formation underlying a large part of Nigeria, and extending about 1,000 kilometer north-east from the Bight of Benin to Lake Chad. The statement also said that both NNPC and Benue have reinvigorated their collaboration on an ethanol production project. Baru noted in the statement that ethanol when blended with petrol ensures excellent performance of vehicles, and such energy sufficiency and proficiency were part of the cardinal objectives of the NNPC. The statement also explained that the leader of the delegation, Chief Terwase Orbunde, had earlier commended the NNPC for resolving the recent fuel supply challenges and pledged the readiness of the state government to support the quick take off of the ethanol project, as it would generate jobs for Nigerians. According to the statement, Orbunde assured the NNPC of full support and cooperation from the state government and the host communities. He added that the government fully identified with the energy policy of the federal government. It said the ethanol project was part of what NNPC initiated as its renewable energy programme in August 2005 in conformity with the Kyoto Protocol agreement to which Nigeria is a signatory. It stated that the primary aim of the programme is to link the agricultural sector with the oil and gas industry, as well as gradually reduce the nation’s dependence on imported gasoline, reduce environmental pollution as a result of consumption of wholesale fossil fuel and create a commercially viable industry that can generate sustainable domestic jobs.