By Michael Eboh President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to commence the search for crude oil and other hydrocarbon exploratory activities in the Benue Trough.

According to a statement by the NNPC, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. Maikaniti Baru, disclosed this while receiving a delegation from the Benue State Government, who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja. This is coming few days after the same directive was given to the NNPC to intensify crude oil exploration in the Chad basin. 

The Benue Trough is a major geological formation underlying a large part of Nigeria, extending about 1,000 kilometer north-east from the Bight of Biafra to Lake Chad. It is part of the broader Central African Rift System. Baru stated that the directive to commence exploratory activities in the Benue Trough was part of efforts to guarantee energy security of the country. In addition, the NNPC also stated that it has reinvigorated its collaboration with the Benue State Government on the Ethanol project which is geared towards production of biofuels for energy sufficiency. 

Baru noted that ethanol when blended with Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, ensures excellent performance of vehicles, stressing that energy sufficiency and proficiency were part of the cardinal objectives of the NNPC. The NNPC added that it has initiated a renewable energy programme in August 2005 which is in conformity with the Kyoto Protocol agreement to which Nigeria is a signatory. The primary aim of the programme, according to the NNPC, is to link the agricultural sector with the oil and gas industry, adding that it is also targeted at gradually reducing the nation’s dependence on imported gasoline, reducing environmental pollution as a result of consumption of wholesale fossil fuel as well as creating a commercially viable industry that can boast of sustainable domestic jobs. 

“A similar programme in Brazil has a thriving biofuels industry providing quantum economic benefits including creation of hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities for nationals of that country,” the NNPC noted. Also speaking, leader of the Benue State delegation, Mr. Terwase Orbunde, 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, adding that the project would generate jobs for Nigerians.

Orbunde assured the NNPC of full support and cooperation from the State Government and the host communities, stressing that the State Government fully identifies with the energy policy of the Federal Government. The Benue trough, according to Wikipedia, has its southern limit at the northern boundary of the Niger Delta, where it dips down and is overlaid with Tertiary and more recent sediments. It extends in a northeasterly direction to the Chad Basin, and is about 150 kilometer wide. 

The trough is arbitrarily divided into lower, middle and upper regions, and the upper region is further divided into the Gongola and Yola arms. The Anambra Basin in the west of the lower region is more recent than the rest of the trough, being formed during a later period of compression, but is considered part of the formation.

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