Nigeria: NNPC to Resume Oil Search in Chad Basin, Benue Trough

7 August 2019

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has expressed its preparedness to re-enter and commence full operations at the Chad Basin, Gongola, and Benue Trough.

It called for military support for the protection of its workforce and high-tech equipment.

NNPC's group managing director (GMD), Mallam Mele Kyari, made the request when he led top management of the corporation to visit the chief of defence staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, at his office in Abuja, yesterday.

In a press release, NNPC group general manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, said that due to the security challenges in the Chad Basin, Gongola and Benue Trough, the organisation had not been able to mobilise fully to the areas of its important operations.

Kyari said: "I am visiting the CDS as my first port of call following my appointment to seek for the support of the armed forces to help the NNPC in re-entering the Chad Basin, Gongola and Benue Trough to enable us carry out our mandate for national development. Your support in terms of providing full security for staff and equipment is critical to us."

The NNPC boss added that the corporation also requires the military to intensify efforts in the protection of NNPC's pipelines and right-of-way (RoW) across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

Mallam Kyari stated that the NNPC was seriously challenged by the nefarious activities of pipeline vandals, petroleum products' thieves and other economic saboteurs who breach the operations of the corporation in various parts of the country.

He stressed the significance of NNPC's contributions to the national economy, saying that the corporation's synergy with the military was critical to the wellbeing of the nation's economic lifeline.

In his response, Gen. Olonisakin described the NNPC as a strategic corporation that deserves full military support to deliver on her mandate to Nigerians.

He said: "It is imperative for the armed forces and the NNPC to synergise for the benefit of the country going by their various strategic roles to the nation. The armed forces' operations, code named: 'Operation Wase' and 'Operations Delta Safe', along with other operations, were geared towards protecting pipelines and various oil and gas facilities."

Olonisakin further said that the military and the NNPC had been working together and that the visit of the GMD would bolster the various operations to secure the oil and gas installations, adding that the military had devised several strategies to stem the tide of pipeline vandalism.

Similarly, Kyari has called on oil and gas industry players to support the corporation to achieve the national aspiration to grow crude oil reserve to 40 billion barrels and boost oil production to three million barrels per day.

He made the appeal at the 43rd edition of the Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition (NAICE) of the Society of Petroleum Engineers in Lagos on Monday. Kyari said that this could only be achieved if the players collaborate effectively to ensure the timely resolution of contractual issues and the passage of the necessary petroleum legislations.

Kyari also urged the public to be wary of attempts to drag the corporation into politics under the guise of requests for information under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

The GMD made the call during a visit by the executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mr. Waziri Adio, to the NNPC Towers in Abuja.

Ughamadu, in a statement he issued, quoted the GMD as saying that though the corporation was committed to transparency and accountability to the Nigerians, a line must be drawn between genuine requests for information and malicious attempts to drag it into politics using the FoI law as a cover.

He said: "As you are aware, sometimes the requests are brazenly malicious, and they are laden with political undertones. NNPC finds it difficult to respond to such requests because it is mindful of falling into the trap of being drawn into politics or maligning others."

Kyari said that in keeping to its commitment to be accountable and transparent, the corporation would publish its audited accounts soon.

On the disclosure of contracts and contractors as requested by the NEITI boss, he said that the biggest contracts in the corporation's portfolio currently are the products supplies under the Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme, adding that details and the contractors would be made public within this month.

He promised to make the monthly financial and operations reports more accessible by publishing the soft copies of the reports from January to May 2019.

Adio congratulated Kyari on his appointment, saying that "this is a big opportunity you have been given to shape the direction of this country in a positive way and I believe you have the capacity to do that."

He said that he was particularly impressed with the corporation's robust deployment of modern information and communication platforms, especially the website, which he noted, could be used as a transparency tool through pro-active disclosures.

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