Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
A Civil Society Organisation, ‘We The People (WTP)’ has threatened a law suit against International Oil Companies (IOCs) divesting offshore after “destroying the Niger Delta environment in the cause of their activities.”
This as the group alleged that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) offered access to the IOCs to criminally divest offshore without remediating and restoring the already damaged environment of the region.
Speaking at a one-day Multi Stakeholders Conference on ‘Oil Company Divestment in the Niger Delta’, organised by WTP, yesterday, Executive Director of Policy Alert, Tijah Akpan, noted that the PIA gives the IOCs right to divest criminally without tidying up and investing in the communities that have been hosting them over the years.
Akpan, who was a participant at the stakeholders’ conference, said the PIA should provide a bridge between the current era of dependence on fossil fuels, connecting the era with a future that is going to be low carbon future without so much investment in dirty carbon forms of energy.
He stressed: “What we saw in the PIA was a huge disappointment. We did not see any provision in the PIA that takes some of the money from the oil and gas currently and invest it in a fund to clean up the environment or to invest in renewable energy that are cleaner.
“Secondly, the PIA gives a very lean provision for decommissioning and abandonment. And that is the only way we can tidy up the messed-up environment of the Niger Delta that these IOCs have created over the years. Without a strong decommissioning and abandonment provision in the PIA, then you are actually excusing the IOCs from their legacy damages to the communities and the environment.
“The PIA should have created a lost and damage fund, just the same way climate vulnerable communities across the world have been calling during COP27 for loss and damage. What loss and damage can be greater than the pollution in the Niger Delta environment over the last 65 years.”
Earlier in his address, Executive Director of WTP, Ken Henshaw, disclosed that the organisation would sue the IOCs operating in the region for the destruction of the environment and livelihood of the people for the past 64 years of oil exploration and exploitation, if no serious action is taken to remediate the area.
The group, therefore, demanded that all divestment moves by oil companies be
stopped, adding that: “The federal government immediately produces a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated.”