Neglect of Niger Delta by oil industry operators, unethical – Minister

Chima Ugwuanyi

07 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, says that Nigerian oil and gas industry had been negligent of sustainable development of the Niger Delta Region, despite having exploited oil from this region for over half of a century.

“It is clear that the industry has not always respected sustainable development, in the conduct of its E&P operations,” Mrs. Madueke said in a keynote address at the 15th biennial HSE conference on Oil & Gas Industry in Nigeria .

She said the Niger Delta, the traditional oil bearing region in Nigeria, had been identified, even before the advent of our industry, as a region that needed a special policy thrust for development due to its uncommon complex natural attributes.

“Its large wet land encompasses the largest mangrove forest spread, holds the third largest drainage basin in Africa, which serves as the lone watershed for Nigeria, and contains one of the highest concentrations of biodiversities on the planet.

“This is no doubt an ecosystem to be jealously guarded and protected. The contiguous coastal and near offshore regions, are similarly rich in biodiversity,” she said.

The Minister hinted that the Federal Government had taken some practical measures to address some of these challenges, adding however, that the industry operators have to show more sensitivity to the development of their areas of operation.

She added that the Federal Government, in 2009, commissioned the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to carry out an Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, which report was released on the 4th of August 2011.

According to her, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan followed it up immediately and
set up a Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC) to review its findings, resulting in the establishment of the Hydro-carbon Pollution Restoration
Project (HYPREP) in July, 2012, adding that the body had since its establishment implemented all the recommended objectives in the Transition Phase of the UNEP

She urged the operators to match words with actions in order to win the cooperation of their host communities.

“For the industry to regain the trust of the society, it must move from the “trust me” world to “show me” world. “It must reach out for significant changes in its business management strategies, such that it can be perceived as
sincere and transparent, ready to engage the stakeholders and ready to identify with social responsibility in the society in which it operates.”

The minister said, the Federal Government will continue to collaborate, to advance the cause of HSE and its associated programmes, as we can ill-afford any more environmental disasters.

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