Story by Ikenna Omeje
The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) have disclosed that it will soon begin to sanction downstream operators in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
The Chief Executive Officer, NOSDRA, Mr. Idris O.Musa , stated this in an exclusive interview with Nigerian NewsDirect.
Answering question on what the agency is doing to curtail oil spillage on road by tankers, Musa said that the issue of oil spillage from road tankers needs to be addressed jointly through a tripartite arrangement, adding that the marketing companies, tanker drivers and owners of tankers will be sensitized using the method used for the upstream companies, thereafter, there will be sanctions for any company or individual found wanting.
“The issue of the spillage from the tankers is something that has to be addressed jointly. Not by NOSDRA alone. It is going to be tripartite kind of arrangement in the sense that we from the environment angle, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) from the operation side. This includes the condition of the vehicle, the mental alertness of the driver and weight of the vehicle. The third part has to do with the owners of the tankers such as the tankers owned by the marketing companies and those owned by dealers. It could be those tankers not owned by neither of them but belonging to the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
“All these people have to be sensitized and after we have done that, from there we move to ensuring that cleanup is done after spillage by tankers.From there, we have to visit them with what we have been doing with the upstream operators and service providers. When any of the tankers fall on the road, the owner of the tanker has to do remediation even though it catches fire when oil pours on the road. We will call them for a meeting to understand the implication of their activities on the nation’s road network,” he said.
He said that they are not only working to sanitize the downstream, they are also working on sanitizing the midstream sector of the oil industry. In that regard, they have been having talks with operators in the downstream sector to intimate them with information on what constitutes offence.
Musa informed that before now, when they raise the issue of spillage, operators in the downstream used to think it was only in the Niger Delta region that spillage occurs, noting that spillage occurs in different ways as a result of people’s activities.
“It is not just the downstream but starts from the midstream activities. The midstream operations comprises the tank farms in the entire Kirikiri area down to Apapa in Lagos and refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna. The downstream activities include the distribution and retail stations where products are sold to motorists. We are facing operators in the downstream squarely now. We have invited them and had a meeting with all operators in the downstream because in enforcing efficient regulatory activities, we need to sensitize them about what constitute an offense. To that extent, they should not feel like other agencies at the state level that are coming to raise revenue from them. Our own regulatory activities is different. For them to know that it is different, members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) led by MRS Nigeria Plc, Oando Plc, Total Nigeria Plc and Mobil were invited. At the same time, we invited members of the Depots and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) to a meeting that we are now coming to their doorsteps. We have been going all along silently but not fully. Now we are going to monitor and regulate their activities fully.
“When we talk to them about oil spill before, they will say it is Niger Delta problem but now it no longer the same .You can have oil spill matter now in Maiduguri, Sokoto and other cities outside the Niger Delta not as a result of the activities of the downstream operators but as a result of the activities of people like mechanics, those pouring diesel into their generators and telecommunication mast maintenance service providers.
“People living close to filling stations, mechanic workshops and telecom masts have started experiencing oil in their water system like borehole. We have the case of Baruwa in Lagos with contaminated water as a result of the oil spillage from the pipelines of Nigeria Pipeline and Storage Company formerly PPMC. The leakage of pipeline of this company has affected boreholes of people living at Baruwa and Diamond Estate.
“We are having a meeting with the FCT Chapter of IPMAN to commence full monitoring of downstream activities in Federal Capital Territory in Abuja,” he stated.
Speaking on the level of effectiveness of NOSDRA in ensuring compliance through penalties by operating companies in the oil and gas industry, he said that the agency is effective and sanctions erring companies after investigation have been carried out
He admonished Nigerians not to attack oil facilities thinking that they are getting back at the oil companies, stating that attack on the oil facilities is an attach on the government and the nation’s resources, because the Nigerian government owns majority shares in Joint Venture partnership with various oil companies in the country.
He said that by Section 11 sub-section 5(c) of the oil pipeline states that an oil company will pay for compensation where there is any damage to any asset by third party as a result of oil pollution and regretted that an oil firm will not pay if it was as a result of sabotage or third party interference.
“We are very effective and sanction after thorough investigation. Like I said earlier not all pipelines leakages occur as a result of equipment failure but due to third party interference. Hence, the reason the media and the civil societies must take time to report accurately and investigate source of oil spillage and not just to attack oil companies.
“When you think you are attacking the oil companies, you are attacking the government This is because the Federal government owns major shares in each of the Joint Venture operations of the upstream companies led by Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Agip.
He added that “The ownership of oil companies in Nigeria is different from what obtains in the United States of America.”