Boko Haram Attacks, Military Advice Forces NNPC To Suspend Crude Oil Search In Chad Basin



The Oasis Reporters

July 28, 2017

Rising from a risk assessment meeting, Thursday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), has temporarily called off it’s over twenty year search for crude oil in the Chad Basin in some parts of Borno State.

The reasons are to do with recent attacks on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, staffers and some military personnel by the Islamist insurgency terror sect, Boko Haram.

This was made known by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who told reporters that the exercise had to be put on hold until the state oil corporation gets sufficient clearance to resume its oil search in the region from the military.

Eight soldiers and an officer providing security services for the NNPC staff were recently killed in an ambush by the Boko Haram sect in Borno state while returning from oil exploration at Barno Yasu in Magumeri and this has been confirmed by the Nigerian Army Spokesman Col. Sani Usman.

He also added that after killing the soldiers and some civilian joint task force operatives, the militants also abducted the oil contractors from the University of Maiduguri.

In a statement on Wednesday, Sani Usman further said that many of the terrorists were killed, while all the 10 staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who were kidnapped had been released, the bodies of the military personnel and a civilian, who died in the incident had been recovered.

“On receipt of the information, the brigade mobilised and sent reinforcement, search and rescue party that included the armed forces special forces and guides that worked and pursued the terrorists throughout the night,” the statement read.

“So far, they have rescued all the NNPC staff and recovered the corpses of the officer, eight soldiers and a civilian who have been evacuated to 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital.

“The team recovered four vehicles one of which include a gun truck mounted with an Anti-Aircraft Gun, two white Hilux taken away from NNPC staff and one blue Hilux belonging to CJTF.

“The team also recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, several spare tyres, many jerry cans containing Petroleum, oil and lubricant, assorted drugs, improvised explosive device making materials, reflective jackets and a Motorola handheld radio, among others.

“The team also neutralised many of the terrorists.”

While commiserating with the families of victims killed by the insurgents, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu pointed out that NNPC got the neccesary clearance from security agencies before embarking on the trip last Tuesday, but unfortunately, the team was ambushed by terrorists, asserting that no work will continue at the site anytime soon.

The discovery of oil in commercial quantity in neighboring Chad Republic had spurred the NNPC, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari who doubles as the country’s Petroleum minister , to intensify and focus it’s exploratory work in the inland basins on areas around the Chad Basin and Benue Trough.

The state oil company, in November 2016, resumed exploratory activities in Gubio; Magumeri; Monguno; Kukawa; Abadam; Guzamala; and Mobar, after getting security assurance from the military.

In a related development, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has stated that bad weather is adversely affecting its operations against Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East.

The Air Component Commander of “Operation Lafiya Dole,” Air Commodore Tajudeen Oladele, stated this in Yola, on Thursday, while briefing journalists on the activities of the command from April to June.

“The major challenge affecting air operations at this period is adverse weather.

“Thunderstorm and rainfall impacted negatively on our operations.

“This is however to be expected during the period under review.

“There were days that flights have to be delayed or cancelled because of weather,” he said.

However the challenge did not significantly hamper the operations conducted during the period under review.

The commander said a total of 821 sorties were conducted within 1,256 hours and nine minutes of flight which consumed over two million litres of Jet A 1 and MOGAS worth N334 million.

He said there were times attacks had to be suspended in order not to endanger the lives of innocent civilians.

He reiterated the component’s readiness to sustain its onslaught against Boko Haram and support the operations of ground troops as well as sustain its humanitarian support in the areas of food supply and healthcare services to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the region.

“Our sincere gratitude goes to the Chief of Air Staff for his support. On our part we are always willing and ready to carry out any additional task,” Oladele said.

The experiences and statements from the Army and the Airforce were enough for the Petroleum Minister of State, Ibe Kachikwu to order a review of the oil search in the Chad Basin, making it seem that the Boko Haram insurgency is still dictating the pace of economic activity in the north east region of Nigeria.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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