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Nigeria Relaunches Oil Exploration in Lake Chad Basin

The Nigerian Government has announced plans to relaunch oil exploration in the Lake Chad Basin.

The State Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, announced the plan during a briefing with newsmen after a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt,- Gen. Tukur Buratai, at Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri, Borno State.

The minister was accompanied on the visit by the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Alhaji Mele Kyari, and the Group General Manager, Frontier Exploration Services, Mr Mohammed Ali.

Radio Nigeria quoted Sylvia as explaining that the relative peace in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria, and the Lake Chad area informed the decision for the exploration and drilling activities to resume.

“As you may well know, we have found oil in Gombe and we believe that there is a lot of oil to be found 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.

He appreciated the sacrifice and gallantry of the Nigerian Army in the fight against insurgency and sought the collaboration of the chief of army staff in providing security to secure the installations and workers on the field.

Oil exploration commissioned by the Nigerian Government in Lake Chad Basin, in the past, did not produce sufficient results to encourage further investment at a time the country was benefiting from oil extraction in the Niger Delta region.

However, recent revenue crises and exploration in neighbouring Lake Chad region countries have renewed interest in exploring and drilling for hydrocarbon deposits in the Lake Chad Basin and other parts of Northern Nigeria.

In July 2017, dozens of people were killed, including soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and four oil workers were kidnapped when Islamic State fighters ambushed a team of NNPC Frontier Exploration Services and their consultants from the University of Maiduguri.

The incident happened in Jibi village in the Magumeri area of Borno, northwest of the state capital, Maiduguri.

In September 2020, Chad asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to suspend an application for world heritage site status for Lake Chad so that it can explore oil and mining opportunities in the region, according to a letter leaked to the Guardian.

According to the letter, the government “has signed production-sharing agreements with certain oil companies whose allocated blocks affect the area of the nominated property.

“The government wishes to “redefine and redesign the map to avoid any interference in the future”.

The application was a multinational attempt to list Lake Chad and its wetlands as a world heritage site has suffered a setback as the Chadian Government has requested for the suspension of the process to pave way for oil exploration in the region.

Violence in the region has killed more than 30,000 people and displaced about two million people since 2009 when Boko Haram first launched an uprising against Nigeria.

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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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