Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari appointed a new head of the country’s oil company on Thursday, amid plans to resume searching for oil in Lake Chad.
Mele Kolo Kyari, a geologist from the volatile northeastern Borno state, will take over as group managing director of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Maikanti Baru, who was appointed in 2016, the company said in a statement.
Seven other senior officials were also appointed to head NNPC’s subsidiaries.
Until his new appointment, Kyari, 54, was group general manager of the NNPC’s crude oil marketing division and has represented Nigeria in the OPEC oil cartel since May 2018.
Buhari, who was re-elected for another four-year-term in February has vowed to reform the NNPC, which has for years been beset by inefficiency and corruption.
Proposed legislation to overhaul the company has been stuck in parliament since 2012 because of disagreements with some of its provisions by stakeholders.
Kyari’s appointment comes when the country looks to revive its search for oil in the Lake Chad region, which comprises Nigeria’s northeast, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“We will go back there as soon as we receive security clearance,” outgoing NNPC chief Baru was quoted in the local media on Thursday as saying.
“There seems to be some prospects there because Niger Republic drilled over 600 wells and now they are producing while we have only drilled 23,” he said.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest crude producer, accounting for a daily output of two million barrels — much of which lies in the southern Niger delta and offshore.
The country halted its oil search in the Lake Chad area in July 2017 following a Boko Haram attack on an NNPC exploration team in which at least 69 people were killed.
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