Bayelsa spill: FG plans tougher sanctions on oil firms

Bayelsa spill: FG plans tougher sanctions on oil firms

The Federal Government has disclosed that it is considering stricter sanctions for companies involved in oil spillage in the Niger Delta.

The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who revealed this on Thursday at the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the Presidential media team at thePresidential Villa, Abuja, also explained that her ministry was engaging other relevant agencies to achieve this.

Ikeazor said the Ministry of Environment was working to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency to build its capacity and give it ‘the needed teeth to bite’.

She said, “I mentioned earlier the review of the NOSDRA bill. You know most of these Acts were passed years ago. You will see that they will stipulate a N100,000 fine. Anyone can pay that and go back and re-pollute.

“We need to put stiffer penalties, build the capacity of NOSDRA which is the regulatory agency in the oil sector to be able to have the teeth to bite.

“Without enhancing their capacity and reaffirming the legal framework, getting it stronger, they can’t do much. These are areas we are looking into; it has to stop.

“Government is working on alternative livelihood for the communities so that we can move them away from illegal activities and further polluting of the environment.”

She further explained that the operating company of the OML29 in Nembe, Bayelsa State, had blamed the most recent oil spillage in the country on sabotage by the locals.

The minister announced that the Santa Barbara spillage had been brought under control weeks after the incident occurred, with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.

She also disclosed that the ministry was going to have a targeted approach to illegal bunkering, tampering with oil installation, and artisanal mining in the Niger Delta.

“This is to get an alternative livelihood for the young people of the Niger Delta so that they would desist from this because it is further polluting the environment,” she said.

The minister also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke especially among women in the country. According to her, Nigeria ranked the highest in the global list of death cases arising from smoke inhalation.

In his remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Petroleum Resources, Dr Nuhu Habeeb, noted that the Federal Government had designed an open transparent, and competitive bidding mechanism where qualified private sector players could take the hitherto wasted flames, deploy modular processing system and monetise them.

He added that every industry player the would engage must provide a gas flair elimination plan.

 

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