The Rivers State Government says the issues of oil exploration and the degradation of land and water of the Niger Delta region, especially Ogoni land has impacted negatively on the lives of our people.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike stated this during the commissioning of office building and laboratory of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
Represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said that since the last quarter of 2016, Port Harcourt atmosphere has suffered from the appearance of black soot which was very injurious to the health of the people as they could no longer engage in their natural vocation to carter for their families.
He said the state government had to set up a high-powered technical committee which expressed the need for the Federal Government to implement the stop gas flaring policy that has been in the archives since 1979, and also to ensure that the gas flare sites were handed over to investors by 2020 as captured in the gas flare commercialisation programme of Nigeria.
Wike said one of the things that came out of the report was the fact that illegally refined petroleum products were being set ablaze by the security forces in a manner that was further endangering the community, the land and the water.
The state chief executive called for the establishment of a tank farm, where seized illegal products can be stored and used for the benefit of the Federal Government and the people.
According to him, the legality of artisanal refining has promoted unregulated use of technology, stressing that the Federal Government should accelerate plans for the establishment of modular refineries in the crude oil-bearing regions of Nigeria.
The governor also advocated that the International Oil Companies (IOCs) should be compelled by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Environment to have remote sensing and command control centres which can detect oil spills, leakages and oil facilities tampering across their operational areas, to enable them spot vulnerable points on the pipelines.
Wike, who expressed the state government’s willingness to partner with NOSDRA to achieve results, expressed the hope that the commissioning of the laboratory would positively impact on the lives of the people in the oil producing region.
In her keynote address, the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, said the Federal Government was committed to oil spill management in Nigeria, noting that the implementation of the United Nations Environment Report (UNEP) on Ogoniland led to the setting up of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP).
According her, remediation works were underway and it was intended that all remediated sites would be restored to all practical extent, and directed that the facilities available in the National Oil Spill Response Laboratory should be patronized by HYPREP and its contractors as well as the oil companies operating across the nation to maximize the potential of the facility.
She congratulated NOSDRA for the completion of its office in Port Harcourt, which according to her, was the hub of oil exploration and production in Nigeria, and urged the agency to ensure that standards were kept and maintained in line with international best practices.
In his remark, the Director General of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Idris Musa, said the building was designed to serve as administrative block, warehouse for oil spill response equipment and reference laboratory for the agency.
Musa noted that the sitting of the National Oil Spill Reference Laboratory in Port Harcourt by the agency was deliberate in view of its central location in the Niger Delta region, where oil prospecting and production activities were predominant in Nigeria at the moment.
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