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The House of Representatives is lamenting the lackadaisical response of most oil companies to issues of disaster management in their sector and the country at large.

A development it says; undermines the efforts of government to provide a safe, healthy and clean environment for Nigerians.

Consequently, the House mandated its Committees on Safety Standards and Regulations, and Petroleum (Upstream) to investigate the cause of incessant leakages and explosions from oil fields in the country.

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Seemingly, the Green Chamber stated that the probe would be with particular reference to – safety and regulatory standards, and ascertaining the cause and extent of gas leakages in order to forestall future occurrences. This will also include exploring efforts to address environmental degradation in affected areas.

It further urged the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately provide relief materials to the affected areas.

These resolutions were reached on Thursday, as the House considered a motion on ‘The Urgent Need to Address the Adverse Health, Safety and Socioeconomic Effects of the Incessant Leakages and Explosion from Oil Fields in the Country’ brought by the spokesperson for the House, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia).

In his lead debate, Kalu complained that some of the tankers were outdated and worn out to lift large quantum of products.

“The capacity of an aging tanker built in 1976, with capacity to process 22,000 barrels per day and also inject up to 40,000 barrels with water per day, exploded at Ukpokiti field in Delta state and caught fire before sinking off the coast of Nigeria on Wednesday, February 2nd 2021, with 10 people working aboard the vessel reported missing and presumed killed.

“The gas leakages following an explosion on the Adriatic One Rig, owned by ConOil and situated off the Atlantic shores in Sangana, had earlier occurred on October 31st 2021, thereby enabling gas to flow uncontrollably and directly into the communities and the surrounding rivers for over three weeks.

He continued, “in 2017 and 2020, similar incidences of major gas leaks in the oil rich coastal community of Sagana, Brass Local Government of Bayelsa State, occurred with similar or worse levels of consequences leading to destruction of aquatic activities with attendant effect on the health and safety of the affected communities who are majorly fishermen.”

He further expressed concerns that apart from destroying the ecosystem and killing fish in the affected places, there are claims that the health challenges associated with these leakages and explosions are enormous.

For him, the true picture can only be ascertained through adequate laboratory examinations.

“The reports from the International Centre for Investigative Reporting have claimed that the explosion alongside many others in the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria are not unconnected with poor operational safety standards of the vessels and oil facilities.”

 

Meanwhile, the lawmaker disclosed that some oil companies have been previously sanctioned by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) for degrading the environment, directives given to these companies to contain oil spills by shutting the fields down and replacing leaking pipelines have fallen on deaf ears.

He also informed about further findings which has revealed that even though the major causes of these leakages may have been known, to among other factors, result from pressured underwater pipelines that create bubbles on the water surface, the continuous and uncontrolled leakages from these oil fields depict companies operating with total disregard to human and environmental safety.

The motion was passed when the presiding officer, deputy speaker Idris Wase put the question.

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