THE Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) will begin drilling of the first oil well in Obi/Keana, Nasarawa State, on March 21.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, gave the information today when he led the company’s management on a courtesy visit to the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, in Lafia, the state capital.
Kyari said the company began exploration activities in the state in 2010 and had technically found petroleum in the state.
“We have seen a great potential for finding hydrocarbon in Nasarawa State and to confirm this, we are going to start drilling on March 21.
“We are very optimistic that it will be a successful exercise. It will not end there; once you find oil, you do further works to develop it not just for the benefit of the community around it but for Nasarawa State and the country,” he stated.
He said the exploration would not be limited to the current location in Obi/Keana.
“Once we test this prospect, it opens new roads. And we have seen other great prospects across many parts of the state. This will herald history and bring value to all of us,” he added.
The Group CEO lauded the government and people of Nasarawa State for their cooperation and support so far and called for its sustenance.
“Peace and cooperation is essential in oil exploration and we have seen enormous cooperation in this respect. We have seen no danger, no risk to our operation from all stakeholders in our area of operation, and we thank them for that,” he said.
He said the company would continue to do its best to bring immediate value to the host community and, ultimately, to the wider society when oil was found in commercial quantity.
In his response, Governor Sule thanked the NNPC Ltd. boss and his team for the visit and for what they were doing in the state.
He also appreciated the people in the area for their support so far, while urging them to sustain the peace in the area and across the state.
Sule identified insecurity as a major challenge to oil exploration in the country, and called on the people of the state to ensure they maintain peace and support the company for the project to succeed.
He expressed optimism that the drilling of the oil well, named ‘Ebenyi-A’ would be the first in the North Central zone of the country and would bring lots of benefits to Nasarawa State.
The Emir of Lafia, retired judge, Muhammad Sidi-Bage, reassured the NNPC Ltd, on behalf of the people, of utmost support towards the success of the project.
“On behalf of our people, we want to say that you will find peace, we have been known for being peaceful, kind and loving. You will not have any reason to feel otherwise within the period of your operation in the state,” Sidi-Bage said.
The Managing Director, NNPC Energy Services Limited, Sophia Mbakwe, said the assurances from the government and stakeholders in Nasarawa State were critical to the company’s operation.
“For the right environment to operate, we need the cooperation, support and blessing of the Governor and the community, and that we have gotten today.
“The intent is that it’s going to benefit both parties and we want to go there to ensure no harm to people, no harm to the environment and be able to commence drilling as planned on March 21,” she said.
In a similar vein, the Executive Director, frontier exploration services of the company, Muktar Zanna, led a team of other executive directors on courtesy visits to various traditional rulers of areas with hydrocarbon prospects in the state to get their support.
Traditional rulers visited included Aliyu Dangiwa-Orume, the Osuko of Obi; Abdullahi Agbo, the Osana of Keana; and Umar Apeshi, the Osoho of Olosoho (Agwatashi), as well as retired justice Muhammad Sidi-Bage, the Emir of Lafia.
All the traditional rulers gave assurances of the peoples’ commitment to peace towards the company’s operations in the state.