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Oil thieves behind major spills in Nigeria – FG - PUNCH

JANUARY 11, 2020

Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

The Federal Government on Friday attributed most of the oil spills in Nigeria to the activities of oil thieves.

The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, stated this during the opening of the office and laboratory of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

She lamented that oil spills had impacted negatively on communities through the degradation of the environment, air and water pollution, adding that communities also faced disease and death as a result of oil spills.

Explaining that oil spills had also caused the depletion of national revenue base, the minister said, “These illegal and inhuman practices must be stopped if we are to develop and progress as a nation. It is very sad to note that a majority of the oil spills that occur almost on a daily basis in Nigeria are caused by artisanal refining, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and illegal bunkering.

“Only recently, the National Economic Council noted with concern that oil theft and other sources of leakages in the oil sector accounted for the loss of 22 million barrels of crude oil between January and June, 2019.”

She said government was working with other stakeholders on the review of the NOSDRA Establishment Act in order to strengthen the agency and make it more effective in the discharge of its duties.

“I wish to congratulate NOSDRA for the completion of this giant edifice in the heart of Port Harcourt, which is also the hub of oil exploration and production in Nigeria.

“I implore the agency to ensure that standards were kept and maintained in line with international best practices so as to make the facility the pride of the nation,” she said.

On Ogoni clean-up, Ikeazor pointed out that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) had begun the implementation of the United Nations Environment Report on Ogoniland through the setting up of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project.

According to her, remediation was ongoing at different sites, while the target is to ensure that remediated sites are restored to all practical extent.

In his remark, the state Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, called for the implementation of the Federal Government’s policy on establishment of modular refineries.

He said,  “We want to see a situation where the promise of the Federal Government to establish modular refineries will be taken seriously. We want the International Oil Companies and Nigerian Oil Companies to set up a Remote Sensing Command Centre that will help to send immediate signal on oil spill.”

NOSDRA Director General, Idris Musa, said the building was conceived 10 years ago while the construction began 10 years ago.

Musa noted that despite the challenges, the building complex was completed with the laboratory set up and ready to commence service.

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