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Nigeria’s government is suspending crude oil exploration activities in the Chad Basin in northeastern Borno state following the kidnapping of at least 10 people who were contracted to carry out oil exploration research in the area, Nigeria’s Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said on Thursday.
Yesterday, an official at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said that gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group had abducted at least 10 people who were on an oil exploration mission in the Islamist group’s stronghold state of Borno. The Nigerian oil firm had hired the team to carry out research on the oil exploration activities in the Lake Chad basin in which Nigeria resumed exploration earlier this year.
The Nigerian Army said in a press statement that suspected Boko Haram terrorists ambushed on Tuesday the escort and team of NNPC staff returning from oil exploration at Barno Yasu, Magumeri Local Government Area of Borno State. After receiving the information about the kidnappings, the army organized a search and rescue party that included the Armed Forces Special Forces and guides to pursue the terrorists throughout the night. According to the army, all the NNPC staff have been rescued, but the corpses of 9 soldiers and a civilian were recovered during the rescue mission.
Minister Kachikwu told reporters today that he could not confirm the rescue and the government was still expecting confirmation from the security agencies.
Provided there’s sufficient security clearance, NNPC Group will definitely go back and continue to explore for oil in the area, NNPC said on Twitter, quoting the minister as saying.
According to Kachikwu, NNPC’s re-entry into oil exploration in the Chad Basin wasn’t misguided. For 6 months, they’ve been operating in the area as there’s some stability, NNPC tweeted.
The deterioration of the security situation in the Chad basin is the latest blow to Nigerian oil, after the Nigerian unit of Shell said earlier this week that it had shut its Trans Niger Pipeline due to a leak, while the managing director of the NNPC said that the pipeline was attacked, effectively shutting in 150,000 bpd of crude oil output.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.