From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has started exploratory activities in Benue State in search of oil.
This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru when he led senior officials of NNPC on a courtesy call to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in Government House Makurdi yesterday.
The search for oil in Benue Trough, according to NNPC GMD was triggered by the mandate by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, directing the corporation to resume oil exploration in Chad Basin and the Benue Trough.
Baru who intimated that the visit was intended to explore and update Governor Ortom on the NNPC biofuel project in Agasha/Guma, further stated that the exploration for hydro carbons in the Inland Basins was driven by the urgent need for the nation to increase its oil and gas reserves.
Baru also stated that the exploration will improve revenue streams and create more business and employment opportunities for Nigerians.
He also disclosed that the corporation has commissioned Environmental Baseline studies to assess all aspects of the natural environment, to determine how best to carry out its seismic acquisition operations without harm to people, the ecosystem and the environment.
Baru said this seismic data has commenced from Ondoni, boundary between Benue and Nasarawa states and would cut across Makurdi, Guma, Gwer West, Gwer West and Logo Local Government Areas.
Some of the benefits derivable from the biofuel project, according to Baru include; one million direct and indirect jobs, 20,000 hectares of sugarcane feedstock plantation and cane mill and raw/126,000 tonnes of refined sugar plant annually as well as 84 million litres per year of Fuel-Ethanol processing plant.
Others he said are 64 mega watts of bagasse cogeneration of power plant, 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide recovery and bottling plant per annum and 63,000 tonnes of animal feed per annum.
He, therefore, appealed to the Governor to release the Certificate of Occupancy for the 50,000 hectares of land required for the project and as well conduct the perimetre and topographical survey on the remaining project side in Sagher.
Responding, Governor Ortom promised to provide the needed support to the NNPC to ensure a successful exploration that may eventually launch Benue into an oil producing state.
The Governor who revealed that the survey work was almost completed said that he has constituted a high-powered committee headed by the state Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu to help NNPC to achieve its ambition.
He also, promised to release the Certificate of Occupancy to the corporation for the expanded project, adding that he would be a fulfilled Governor if the two projects take off during his time.