President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has stepped up exploration activities in inland basins ranging from central Benue state to Boko Haram’s heartland in northeast Borno, aided by China and emboldened by gains made against the dreaded sect, Daily Mail reports.

A new discovery in the region would diversify the country’s supply away from the Niger Delta, along with the potential to transform the impoverished northeast and wider north. To help spearhead the search, the NNPC is working with the Bureau for Geophysical Corporation, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), that specialises in seismic data exploration. Nigeria is banking on CNPC’s years of experience in neighbouring Chad and Niger to discover commercial quantities of crude.

The NNPC has also partnered with British firm Savannah Petroleum as well as US oilfield services companies, Schlumberger and Halliburton on the project. However industry insiders warn pumping oil in the northeast, where the jihadists are still fighting a guerilla war, could recreate turbulence seen in the south. For now, it appears the government’s current exploration work is in Bauchi and Gombe, states a safer distance from Boko Haram hotspots in and around Lake Chad.