– Say PIA criminalizes oil bearing communities
Port Harcourt — Stakeholders in the Niger Delta region have called for the immediate review of the Petroleum Industry Act, PIA 2021, saying that the Act criminalizes host communities and see them as subjects of oil and gas infrastructure.
To this end, the stakeholders and civil society organisations have vowed to file a class action to stop the implementation of the PIA as well as stop the oil majors from divesting until they have restored the environment back to the way it was before oil exploration.
They made these know during a Townhall Meeting on the Petroleum Industry Act 2021: Challenges of Environmental Pollution in Nigeria’s Delta Communities, organized by the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) in Port Harcourt.
Speaking the keynote speaker and Executive Director of We The People, Mr Ken Henshaw, explained that the PIA was only out to shortchange the Niger Delta people and wondered who determines the operating cost of an oil company.
Henshaw regretted that gas flaring in the PIA is seen as economic loss and not an health hazard, contribution to air poisoning for over 40million inhabitants of the Niger Delta region.
Henshaw wondered how unarmed members of host communities will be able to protect oil installations from armed criminals and vandals, whereas NSCDC, JTF and other armed security forces have failed in the same quest for over 20years.
“The PIA criminalizes oil communities, if we accept the PIA then we are saying that we are criminals.
Under the PIA, where the community fails to protect the oil facilities, funds will be deducted from the 3percent meant for the host community. The PIA treats the Niger Delta people as a subject of oil infrastructure.
“The PIA said when there is unrest, meaning that any day a community decides to carry placards and say ‘we no go gree’ the settlor can claim he has lost 100million barrels due to the protest and thereby deny the host community their 3percent.
“Who determines the operating cost of oil operators? The 3percent operating cost will now be far lesser than the GMoU funds given to host communities by oil multinationals annually. Matter of fact, nothing is coming; be assured that one year from now people will revolt when they have realized that the PIA’s 3percent host community fund is a scam.
“Ask yourself, what was the operating cost for Shell, Exxonmobil, Agip and TotalEnergies in 2021 or 2022? Nobody knows, even the regulators do not know. So we will be at the mercy of whatsoever amount the oil operators give us.
“We must start questioning the PIA and inject fresh policies, regulations that will protect the livelihoods and lives of the Niger Delta people, otherwise the PIA as it is, is only out to criminalizes the Niger Delta region. We need to have a shared understanding of what the issues are, the environmental and health implication of oil exploration.
“The Niger Delta people must file a class action to stop the implementation of the PIA as well as stop the oil majors from divesting until the restore the environment back to the way it was before oil exploration.”
Also speaking, an activist, Celestine Akpobari opined that oil production in the region should ceased because it was not of any profit to the host communities.
“The government and oil companies are partners. If they don’t want one drop if oil to be stolen they know what to do. We should stop oil production because the oil is not profiting us. Look at the PIA, if anything happens, they will deny us the meagre 3percent but a whopping 30percent of oil profits is set aside for frontier explorations.”
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