Following the flag-off of oil search on the Nasarawa State end of the Benue Trough last week, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has commenced move to mobilize for oil exploration in the Benue State sector of the Benue Trough. The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, who led a high-powered delegation from the Corporation to the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom, disclosed that all was set for seismic data acquisition work to commence in the state. Dr. Baru also disclosed that apart from oil exploratory work, NNPC was also ready to kick-off its biofuel project located in the Agasha/Guma area of the state. He explained that the Corporation’s upstream company, Integrated Data Services Ltd (IDSL), would carry out oil exploratory work in Makurdi, Guma, Gwer East, Gwer West and Logo Local Government Areas of the state, adding that work on the Nasarawa end which has commenced would cover the Ondori area (boundary between Benue and Nasarawa States). “I am convinced that the success of the results from IDSL’s seismic data acquisition will lead to the drilling of exploration wells in these areas, which hopefully, would launch Benue state into the league of oil producing states in the country,” Dr. Baru stated.
He stated that the oil search was in fulfillment of the Presidential mandate of exploring for oil in the nation’s inland basins which was driven by the urgent need to increase Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves, thereby improving revenue streams and creating more business and employment opportunities for Nigerians. The GMD informed that the NNPC team was in Benue to sensitise the government and people of the state on the mission. On the biofuel project, Baru disclosed that when completed, Benue state stood to benefit a lot especially the area of employment generation as the project had the capacity to generate about one million direct and indirect jobs. According to the GMD, other benefits of the biofuels project include the a sugar cane feedstock plantation of about 20,000 hectares; a cane mill and raw/refined sugar plant capable of producing 126,000 tonnes annually as well as a fuel-ethanol processing plant capable of producing 84 million litres annually.“With the bio-fuels projects, we also hope to establish the Bagasse cogeneration power plant which will generate 64 MW; a carbon dioxide recovery and bottling plant that will produce 2, 000 tonnes annually as well as an animal feed plant that will produce 63, 000 tons annually,” Dr. Baru added. The GMD also called on the governor to facilitate the release of the Certificate of Occupancy for the 50,000 hectares of land required for the expanded biofuels project in the state. Responding, Governor Ortom expressed delight over NNPC’s oil exploration and bio-fuels projects in the state, adding that all the people of Benue were behind the two projects. “I can assure you of our total support for these projects. We will work with our traditional institutions to sensitise our people on the need to massively support you,” Governor Ortom told the GMD. To show Benue state’s support for the project, Governor Ortom instantly set up a committee headed by the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, to work with the NNPC team to ensure seamless execution of the two projects. It would be recalled that only yesterday, the NNPC, in furtherance of the Federal Government’s biofuel policy, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ondo State Government to establish a 65,000 million litres per annum biofuel plant in Okeluse area of the state.