Nigeria records 3,203 oil spillage cases in four yearsNigeria
NIGERIA’S worrisome record of oil spillage came to the fore in Abuja on Monday as the Federal Government disclosed that 3,203 cases occurred in the country between 2006 and 2010.
The Minister of Environment, Mr. John Odey, who gave the figure, expressed disappointment that over 3,000 oil spillage cases have been reported during the period.
He said: “With the deep regret, the incidents of oil spillages in our environment have been very high. Reported cases of 3,203 out of which 23 per cent has been caused by equipment failure, operational/maintenance error and corrosion while 45 per cent has been attributed to sabotage/vandalism. This is indeed disheartening.”
Represented at a workshop on the “Review of the draft environmental regulations and guidelines for the Nigerian oil and gas industry” by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Biodun Olorunfemi, the minister said the government would strictly enforce anti-spillage rules on oil companies in Nigeria to make the country safe.
Odey said although the government does not wish to impose sanctions on any facilities of the operators in the gas and oil sector, it would not hesitate to enforce strict compliance with all environmental laws.
Stakeholders at the two-day workshop are to examine regulations and guidelines for oil spill recovery, clean up, remediation and damage assessment alongside management of oil spill and oily waste.
At the event organised by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the minister cautioned all operators to abstain from polluting the environment and forge alliance with the ministry and its agencies to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment.
NOSDRA Acting Director-General, Mrs. Uche Okecheme, said the move was to ensure implementation of the national oil spill contingency plan and monitor the operations of the companies towards ensuring compliance with international best practices in the sector.
Also, the Ministry of Niger Delta has urged international donor agencies and oil firms to help build infrastructure in the region.
The Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godsday Orubebe made the plea when the management of Chevron (Nig.) Limited visited him in Abuja. He said the ministry has been working assiduously to ensure that oil companies in the Niger Delta operate in a very peaceful and stable environment.
Orubebe added that the ministry was working with the European Union and UNDP to develop a concept paper to raise funds for the developmental needs of the region.
Leader of the delegation and the firm’s Managing Director, E. S. Shadiya, said Chevron enjoys good working relationship with its host communities because of its commitment to the fulfillment of its corporate social responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has threatened to direct Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) in Lagos and its environs to embark on a strike from Monday, August 30, 2010 if their demands were not meant.
The workers are protesting the alleged release of suspected fuel adulterators by the police.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Lagos State Command spokesman, Superintendent Frank Mba, said as soon as the information got to them, his officers were sent to ensure that the controversial trucks were not moved due to their inflammable contents.
He expressed disappointment over the way NUPENG handled the matter, describing it as harsh and unnecessary.
Mba said: “As I am talking to you now, I just came from the site and the whole trucks are in the premises of the company. The Police Commissioner has ordered that the case should be transferred to state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to ensure discret and robust investigation into the matter.
“It is only the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) that can certify a product as adulterated after a laboratory analysis. Remember that the owner of the company is innocent until proven guilty. So, what NUPENG did is not necessary, they should have allowed us to do proper investigations on the matter before going to the press.”
The union had yesterday embarked on a day-warning strike by suspending the lifting of petroleum products to filling stations in Lagos.
The effect of the strike was not immediately felt as most filling stations sold Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), when The Guardian visited some outlets in Lagos.
Some of the fuel attendants interviewed claimed ignorant of the strike action by NUPENG.
The union alleged that some tanker drivers caught with adulterated fuel in a company on Itire Road were arrested and later released by the police without prosecution.
Chairman, Western Zone of NUPENG, Tokunbo Korodo told The Guardian that the union would be forced to embark on an indefinite strike until police re-arrest and prosecute the suspects whom the union described as economic saboteurs.
Korodo accused the police of aiding saboteurs in the industry. "Last Friday, our Task Force got wind that some people were adulterating diesel and kerosene at a yard situated at Itire, along Oshodi Apapa Expressway. Our team moved swiftly but was stopped at the gate by a detachment of police from Itire. I called on the commissioner of police and reported the matter to him.
“He (commissioner) gave the number of Area, Mushin Commander. I called the Commander and the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) before we were allowed into the yard, where 20 trucks and their drivers were caught in the act, mixing diesel with kerosene. They were promptly arrested and moved to Itire Police Station. From there, in company with some of our men, they were taken to Area D, where two patrol vans were drafted to join our men to ensure that no truck left the yard.
"We barricaded the yard and stationed men to guard and monitor the compound. But on Saturday, the management met the Area Commander and at gunpoint, the police released all the trucks. As they were going, the police asked them to remove the number plates. When we got wind of that, we stationed our men at the Lagos end of the tollgate hoping to apprehend them.“We did not want to barricade the road to avoid obstructing traffic on the busy road. I called both the Police Commissioner and Area Commander severally but there was no response. When the Area Commander eventually picked the call, he said we should forget about it for another time. We believe the police have been compromised to release the suspects and the trucks,” he said.
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