By Joseph BAMIDELE
ABUJA-Due to the uncommon and complex natural attributes of oil rich Niger Delta region, South-south Nigeria the Federal Government has called for a special policy thrust that will ensure rapid development in the region.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alision Madueke said with the regions large wet land encompassing the largest mangrove forest spread that holds the thirds largest drainage basin in Africa which serves as the lone watershed for Nigeria, the ecosystem needs to be jealously guarded and protected.
She noted that the region contains one of the highest concentrations of biodiversities in its contiguous coastal and near offshore region on the planet.
The Minister in her key note address delivered at the 15th International Biennial Health, Safety and Environment Conference on the oil and gas industry in Nigeria said there are peculiar challenges that requires solutions in the country which having the features of global principles needs to be adopted to suits the country’s circumstances.
She lamented that the oil industry has exploited oil from the region for over half of a century stating that “the industry has not always respected sustainable development in the conduct of its Exploration and Production (E&P) operations.
She added that plans are in the pipeline by the Federal Government to design a new robust surveillance and monitoring mechanism for all petroleum infrastructure in Nigeria.
She said sequel to the examination of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, her ministry has set up Hydro-carbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) that would restore all communities impacted by hydro-carbon contamination in the country.
According to her, the project would also implement the actionable recommendations of the UNEP report and design as well as provide a robust, independent coordinated guidance for the surveillance and monitoring of all Petroleum infrastructure in Nigeria.
She said: “Our industry has exploited oil from this region for over half of a century. And it is clear that the industry has not always respected Sustainable Development, in the conduct of its Exploration and Production operations.
“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,” she said.
The minister however, assured that the government and the industry operators would continue to collaborate, to advance the cause of HSE and its associated programmes, to prevent environmental disasters.
The Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) Osten Olorunshola said the conference was in response to a heightened environmental consciousness as well as global need for sustainable development.
He said the DPR is running a continues battle to ensure that all oil firms operating in the country, both upstream and downstream comply with the HSE standards and it would not hesitate to shut down or withdraw licenses of any operator wanting of the practice.