Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife
By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives Committee on Environment has asked multinational oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to immediately commence the clean-up of various communities where oil spill occurred in the recent past.
The committee said that incessant oil spill has resulted in environmental degradation and endangered plant and animal lives in the oil producing areas.
Chairman, House Committee on Environment, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, stated this during an oversight visit to some oil producing communities.
Ekwunife who also led the committee on a visit to the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Port Harcourt expressed concern over the increasing spate of oil pipeline vandalism and proliferation of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta.
Ekwunife disclosed that the committee was on fact finding mission to ascertain the extent of the oil spill in parts of the region.
“From what we have seen, the level of devastation of the land, air and water by oil pollution is much. This means that the people living in these areas cannot fish, they cannot even drink their water and for those who are farmers, they cannot farm.
“The South-South region has been facing environmental challenges such as oil spill, ocean surge and erosion. However, these challenges have also become a global issue.
Every country is looking at what they can do to prevent land degradation,” she said.
Ekwunife pledged that the House of Representatives will continue to collaborate with the various state governments across the region in tackling the various environmental challenges plaguing the region.
Public Affairs Manager, NAOC, Mr Barry Nwubani, who briefed the lawmakers on the activities of his company lamented the rising spate of oil theft, illegal refineries and vandalisation of oil facilities in the Niger Delta. Nwaubani attributed the problem of crude oil theft to several factors including the connivance of some foreign countries whose nationals purchase the stolen oil and transport them overseas.
He disclosed that the company recorded a total of the 301 incidents of sabotage in 2011, amounting to a loss of 9,445.5 barrels of crude oil. In 2012, a total of 212 cases of sabotage was recorded, resulting in the loss of 5,519.3 barrels of crude oil.
Nwubani disclosed that most of the oil spill incidents were fallouts of the activities of crude oil thieves sabotage the oil pipelines.
According to him, only about 16 per cent of the spill could be attributed to non-sabotage factors including pipeline corrosion and equipment failure.