Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, at the weekend said the exploration of the abundant hydrocarbon reserves must be done in an environmentally sustainable and friendly manner, adding that concerted efforts must be made to identify the potential negative impact of any exploration project.
Ikeazor stated this in her remarks at a stakeholders’ meeting on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Ameshi and Enyi Field Development Project by Sterling Exploration and Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) in Anambra State.
She noted that the development and optimal utilisation of the country’s hydrocarbon resources to boost export earnings and provide employment opportunities for teeming Nigerians youths is one of the cardinal objectives of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The minister further said the ministry observed that SEEPCO did not obtain all the required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at the site, in clear violation of section 62 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, and consequently a stop-work order of July 6, 2020, was issued to SEEPCO.
Ikeazor charged stakeholders at the meeting to come up with far-reaching ideas and recommendations that would assist in making the proposed Amechi FDP a development project that would be executed at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.
Earlier in his remarks, the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, stated that the stakeholders’ meeting was a follow up to a series of complaints from the state government on the exploration activities of SEEPCO in the state.
According to Obiano, “Honourable Minister of State your visit to Anambra State will give you first-hand knowledge of how SEEPCO activities have led to the disastrous environmental degradation of the Ogwu-Ikpele and Ogwu Aniocha communities in Agbaru Local Government Area. Their operations have further worsened the plight and living conditions of those communities, thereby creating palpable tension and restiveness that were uncommon before the company arrived.
“We are counting on you to ensure that SEEPCO complies with the EIA requirement, so that we can leave no stone unturned in our quest to become a member of the oil and gas producing state in Nigeria.’’