Nigeria Expands Oil Exploration In Kukawa, Benue Trough

Earth roads through cotton, sesame seed and cassava farmlands lead to an oil exploration site in Kukawa town of Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau State, North Central Nigeria.

The vegetation in the agrarian town includes short grasses, shrubs, baobab and African locust bean trees.

The name, Kukawa, is also the name of a town in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State close to the shores of Lake Chad, where Boko Haram violence has obstructed the Nigerian Government’s interest in exploring oil deposits.

In November, Nigeria’s State Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, announced plans to relaunch oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.

“We have seen a lot of prospects in the Chad Basin and we want to commence exploration and drilling activities and that’s why we are collaborating with the Nigerian Army to ensure that security is provided for activities to commence very soon, ” the minister said.

The Kukawa towns in Borno and Plateau share similarities and abundance of baobab trees (Kuka in Hausa), and the people of Kukawa in Plateau State trace their origins and migration to the Chad Basin.

In June, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) informed the Plateau State authorities about oil exploration in parts of their territory.

The discovery of oil prospect has placed Plateau among states in Northern Nigeria (Borno, Bauchi, Gombe and Niger) where NNPC is conducting exploration activities.

When HumAngle visited Kanam Local Government Area it discovered that the locals were excited about the projects and possible developmental benefits.

Kukawa inhabitants are mostly farmers and have little social amenities, including electricity, the same is the experience for other villages in the area.

In bigger settlements such as Yuli and Bashar, generators and solar street lights help illuminate the night and power socioeconomic activities.

In Kukawa town the oil company has set up camps for workers close to the exploration site.

Sandy roads leading to the site were cleared to improve the movement of heavy drill and transport trucks, Hilux and Buffalo land cruiser trucks supporting exploration work in the town along the Benue Trough.

Over the past few months, locals have watched the oil exploration team conduct a series of tests, drills and place seismic exploration equipment for finding oil deposits in the subsurface.

Heavy duty truck carrying equipment moving from the site.

Among the equipment was a blue personnel transport truck in a convoy that included a Drill Stem Test truck, generator, ambulance and buffalo trucks.

The HumAngle visit coincided with the exploration team and equipment moving out of the site back to their camp.

It is unclear if the oil company has found evidence of oil deposits in commercial quantity and when extraction activities are expected to commence in the Benue Valley.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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