• Decries Linc Oil depot fire

Ejiofor Alike

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has restated its commitment to Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, saying that the industry recorded only one fatal rig accident in the last 10 years as a result of its effort in ensuring the operators’ strict adherence to high safety protocols and standards.

The regulatory agency has also decried the recent fire outbreak at the Linc Oil and Gas Depot in Calabar, stressing that in further show of its commitment to its regulatory oversight functions, its Director, Mr. Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan had visited Linc Oil facility for an on-hand physical assessment of the incident and to lend weight to ongoing efforts to remediate the situation.

In a reaction to the recent fire incident, the regulatory agency said in an emailed statement to THISDAY that it was aware of the challenges facing the regulation of over 30, 000 petroleum retail outlets in 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.

It, however, pointed out that despite this formidable challenge, its strategic HSE interventions have been effectively and consistently deployed in a way that has ensured a steady annual reduction in petroleum products outlets fire-related fatalities, adding that it targets to achieve zero incidents.

The statement further clarified that the Linc Oil depot has been shut down indefinitely, pending the outcome of its investigations into the incident.

“It is very unfortunate because lives were lost. We commiserate with the families of those that lost their loved ones during the unfortunate explosion”, the statement said.

The agency noted that in the course of discharging its regulatory functions, several companies have been barred from operating within the Nigerian oil and gas industry while others have been issued hefty fines for HSE violations.

“And we can aver that this shall continue to be the stance of the DPR going forward, as we strive to hold every operator/marketer to adhere to the highest safety standards while paying due diligence to their immediate operational environment in line with world class standards,” the statement said.

DPR also added that even though the issuance of road worthiness certification does not fall under its regulatory mandate, it still goes a step further in ensuring that all vehicles evacuating products from all petroleum depots, amongst other checks, possess valid road worthiness documents issued by the relevant government agencies.

According to the statement, the measures are aimed at preventing calamitous consequences on the roads.

“We would like to highlight the fact that road traffic incidents that involve Petrol tankers account for the overwhelming majority of fatalities recorded in the entire Petroleum industry. The regulation of vehicular traffic, road use and incidences arising therefrom, fall outside the jurisdiction of the Department of Petroleum Resources. We can only be accountable for what is within our mandate as an institution. Nonetheless, as a responsible and sensitive Agency of Government, the Department continues to engage the relevant stakeholders on this pressing issue,” DPR explained.

“The DPR is subject to existing Federal laws that prescribe prosecution and fines only after indictments. Precipitate actions based on spontaneity and emotion are not very helpful when incidents of the type we just witnessed in Calabar happen. Rather, what is required are thorough investigations/inquiries to be conducted pursuant to the Mineral Oils (Safety) Regulations (1997) and other relevant petroleum laws; after which decisions are taken,” the agency added.