Nigeria’s loss to crude oil theft and other disruptive activities in the oil industry between 2015 and 2018 was valued at about N4.5trillion, Minister of Environment, Mohammad Abubakar, quoted estimates by Nigeria Natural Resources Charter (NNRC) on Monday.
Some of the disruptive activities, which have caused the country huge economic losses, the minister said, include vandalism of oil and gas facilities, such as oil and gas pipelines, plant shut downs, as well as loss of biodiversity, habitat and ecological damage.
Other losses are as a result of the destruction caused degradation of soil quality, which drastically reduces soil fertility, thereby affecting crop yields and food security, increased air pollution and the attendant climate change issues, public health impacts on affected communities, social impacts and loss of livelihood, supremacy among militants, casualties, among others.
The Minister who spoke at a Town Hall meeting organized by the Ministry of Information and Culture, on protecting oil and gas infrastructure in Abuja, said Nigeria recorded a total of 4,919 oil spills between 2015 and March 2021.
Quoting figure by the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) data, the Minister said total number of oil spill incidents over the six years period was about 4,919.
The Minister said the number of oil spills incidents collated by NOSDRA were 308, with spill associated with operational maintenance put at 106, while those attributed to sabotage were 3,628 and those yet to determine the cause were 70. A total of 235,206 barrels of crude oil were spilled into the environment in the various incident, the Minister said.
“Several statistics have emphasized Nigeria as the most notorious country in the world for oil spills, losing roughly 400,000 barrels per day; followed by Mexico that has reported only between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels only per day, a difference of about 3, 900 percent,” he said.
Apart from the environmental effect of the oil spills, the Minister said the major concern of the Ministry of Environment, is in the loss of revenue by the government.
“Attack on oil facilities has become the vocation that replaced agitations in the Niger Delta region against perceived poor governance and neglect of the area. The impacts of vandalism of oil facilities have not only caused pollution of the environment but had consequences on the local people, the national economy and security,’’ he said.
Abubakar said the activities that come with oil exploration and exploitation similarly caused alterations to the environment and some of its effects have either been reduced or prevented.
The minister said adequate mitigation measures taken, include enforcement of relevant laws, regulations and guidelines, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, which ensured measures were put in place to assist in reducing the negative effects and enhancement of the positive effects on the ecology, health and social wellbeing of communities in project areas.
“In the light of this, over 1,300 oil and gas projects in Nigeria have been subjected to EIA process under the supervision of the ministry,’’ he said.
The ministry, he said held periodic interactive sessions with oil and gas operators, focused on the continued degradation of the environment, fatalities and loss of revenue, attributable to the regular and incessant vandalism of oil facilities, particularly pipelines.
Over the years, the minister said oil pipeline vandalism was one of the major factors that contributed significantly to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region, which accounts for about 70 to 80 percent of the country’s oil and gas sector that drives the economy.
He added that the country’s oil and gas production accounts for a great deal of upstream and downstream industrial activities and production frontiers were increasingly moving into deep-sea operations.
With the oil sector accounting for over 90 percent of Nigeria’s total foreign exchange earnings, the bulk coming from the numerous producing fields located on the land, swamp and offshore environment of the Niger Delta region, Abubakar said there was need for increased awareness on the negative consequences of vandalism of oil facilities and other illegal activities.
Such awareness, he said, should also be accompanied by increased sustainable community development programmes for host oil communities, to include skills acquisition, provision of infrastructure and basic amenities, among others, by oil companies and relevant government agencies, Abubakar said. (NAN)
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