30 November 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke has urged oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria to reduce the incidence of environmental pollution caused by exploration and production activities to its bearest minimum in line with best international practices.
The Minister made this known while delivering her welcome address during the first Stakeholders’ Roundtable on the Niger Delta environmental protection and regeneration with the theme: “Ensuring Niger Delta Environmental Sustenance” in Abuja.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Sheikh Musa Goni, informed that the issue of environmental pollution directly affects the lives of the people who dwell in the region adding that the Federal Government is committed to redressing every environmental issue frontally in order to better the lot of the people.
“I have directed all the oil companies in Nigeria to employ international best practices in their exploration and production activities to ensure that the cases of spills are reduced to the bearest minimum. The issue of deliberate pollution via pipeline vandalism is also being addressed with all seriousness it deserves. I have also mandated that all cases of oil spills be promptly cleaned up,” Mrs. Alison-Madueke declared.
She disclosed that clear structures are being put in place to ensure that all forms of pollution ranging from first tier to second tier and third tier pollution are decisively tackled to mitigate the level of environmental degradation in the region, saying that earlier directives are targeted at tackling first tier pollution which is usually at the level of individual operators is being restructured through the formation of a Clean Nigeria Associates to solve the second tier pollution which goes beyond an individual company.
The Minister expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to expeditiously implement the recent United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, report in order to solve the critical Niger Delta environmental challenge.
In his keynote address, the Chairman of the Roundtable and Former Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson who was also a onetime Secretary of US Department of Energy stated that whatever happens in the Niger Delta affects the global energy mix and called for a proactive action by all stakeholders in the petroleum industry in Nigeria to mitigate the environmental pollution in the region.
He applauded the Federal Government for the amnesty programme which has improved the country’s daily oil production and recommended for the immediate clean up of the Niger Delta and a creation of resource fund that would pool resources from all stakeholders to remediate the environment.
Speaking in similar vein, the Country Chair of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Mr. Mutui Sumonu reaffirmed his company’s determination to secure and operate according to best environmental practices and called for a collaborative effort by all stakeholders to solve the Niger Delta environmental problems.
Participants and experts in the one-day roundtable were drawn from across the national and global environment cum oil and gas industry.