africa

Lawan asks FG to sanction errant oil companies


threatens Halkin MD with arrest over $60m oil well dispute
• Reps committee okays progress at Port Harcourt Refinery
• Dickson seeks remedy for polluted environment

Oil companies responsible for the devastation in host communities must be penalised, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said.

Lawan spoke, yesterday, in his remarks as the Senate considered a motion on “The extremely urgent need to stop continuous crude oil and gas blowout at Santa Barbara Well 1, OML 29, operated by AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited in Opu Nembe, Bayelsa State.”

According to him, doing so would also mean penalising any company that fails to adhere to operational standards set by Federal Government.

“I feel very sad that an indigenous oil company would be involved in this kind of incident and yet not able to show any capacity

“As a country, we want to promote our local content and indigenous oil companies to participate in this industry. But we are going to insist, whether it is an indigenous company or an international one, that the companies must be responsible to host communities and to the nation.

The motion was sponsored by Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (Bayelsa East).

The lawmaker, citing orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules, expressed concern over continuous gushing and spewing of oil and gas into waterways and mangrove vegetation of Opu Nembe area of Bayelsa State.

He said: “The magnitude of this incident is of an extremely high order, the first of its kind in this part of the world.”

According to him, the magnitude of incompetence is sufficient to attract sanctions such as revocation of operational licence by regulatory authorities to instil sanity in the oil and gas sector in response to the increased global call for protection of the environment.

The Senate urged AITEO Eastern Exploration and Production Company Nigeria Limited to seek, explore and deploy the highest level of expertise and technology to stop spillage and prevent damage to the environment.

MEANWHILE, for instituting an N10 billion suit against the Senate over its dispute on Atala Marginal Oil Field (OML 46) with Hardy Oil Nigeria Limited, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest to compel the Managing Director of Halkin to appear before it.

Hardy Oil had in a petition filed against Halkin before the Senate, alleged that Atala Marginal Field (OML 46) hitherto owned by it, was fraudulently sold to Halkin by the now-scrapped Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The Senate had on the strength of the petition, mandated its committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to investigate the allegation.

The two oil firms at the beginning of the investigative hearing by the committee in October appeared through their representatives, but Halkin in a surprise move slammed the committee with a N10 billion suit for discontinuance of the session.

Angered by Halkin’s latest move, members of the committee, which include James Manager, Uche Ekwunife, Smart Adeyemi, Sam Egwu, among others, vowed to ensure the continuation of the investigation at the next sitting.
THIS happened as the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream, yesterday, declared work at Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State, as progressive.

The Committee while touring the facility, yesterday, in Eleme Local Government Area of the state to see the extent of work on the plants, said it is determined to ensure that the money released so far for the project is commensurate with the work being done.

Chairman of the Committee, Abdullahi Mahmud Gaya, told newsmen that, though they are yet to ascertain the value of money injected so far into the rehabilitation works, they would get the figure in three weeks to evaluate if the figures matched the work done.

In another development, the Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, has joined those expressing concern over spillage from OML 29 Well 1 Platform operated by AITEO Exploration and Production Company.

Dickson, in a statement on Monday, called on the operators of the oil firm, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Ministry of Environment, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency and others to take immediate steps to rescue the seriously threatened environment from total destruction.





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