Posted by News Express | 8 September 2015 | 3,087 times
The Bayelsa Government in South-South Nigeria has warned oil firms operating in the state to comply with guidelines for oil spill response or face stiff penalties.
The warning was contained in a letter to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its Joint Venture partners operating onshore and offshore Bayelsa.
According to the letter signed by Mr Iniruo Wills, Bayelsa Commissioner for Environment, and made available yesterday in Yenagoa, the sanctions will include seeking revocation of operational licences.
The Bayelsa Government on August 18 unveiled a policy christened ‘LIVES BEFORE OIL’ aimed to ensure safety of human lives in oil field operations within the state.
The release of the guidelines was sequel to the July 9, 2015 pipeline explosion at Agip’s oil field in Azuzuama, Bayelsa, which killed 14 people including a regulatory official from Bayelsa Ministry of Environment.
The letter reads in part: “We request that you and your organisation to adhere strictly to the sequence contained in the attached Guidelines in responding to and managing oil spill and gas leak incidents in or affecting any part of Bayelsa State.
“This is in furtherance of our determination to re-intensify enforcement of globally acceptable environmental and safety standards in all industrial operations in the state, and to ensure that lives are placed in priority before oil.
“These guidelines are issued in light of the extremely alarming frequency of oil and gas pollution disasters in the state.
“These cases have recently reached an approximate range of 1,000 in a year, with unbearable consequences for human lives, public health, community livelihoods and peace, tourism.
“Also agriculture, forestry, the overall economy of Bayelsa State, and the sustainability and physical integrity of the state’s ecology and terrain are equally affected adversely.”
Commissioner Wills noted that the disaster of July 9, 2015 at Agip’s field at Azuzuama that killed 14 persons, was followed by a massive oil spill fire barely one week later at the Okpotuwari-Ondewari axis, within Agip’s field in Bayelsa.
“These are two examples of the fatal threat posed by the oilfield practice and manner of oil spill management prevalent in the State, despite repeated efforts by Government and regulatory authorities to compel improvements,” Wills stated in the letter.
Nigeria Agip Oil Company, Chevron Nigeria Limited, and Shell Petroleum Development Company all operate oil fields in Bayelsa in Joint Venture with NNPC.
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