Stakeholder of the Environment has called for an urgent review of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 (PIA), especially in sections that reflect colonial tendencies in the implementation of the Host Community Development Trust (HCDT).
The stakeholders, in a 13-point communique made available to newsmen in Calabar, yesterday, said the urgent review would forestall future conflict.
This was disclosed at the end of a workshop organised by Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, with the theme, ‘Environmental Governance in Oil and Gas Communities’.
The communique was signed by the Secretary of Uttawa community in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom, Chief Emmanuel Udofia; Mrs. Ini Umoh of the Ministry of Environment, Akwa Ibom, Mr. Taxton Okobah of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Akwa Ibom and 18 others.
It observed that many oil and gas companies operating in Akwa Ibom have not commenced the process of meeting the August 2022 deadline for the establishment of the HCDT, as provided for in Guidelines of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
It noted: “There is a wide knowledge gap among host communities on the PIA. Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), among other petroleum regulators, have not done enough to sensitise oil and gas communities on the rights and expectations of host communities in the PIA.
“Although the PIA, on the surface, appears to give some reprieve to the host communities, the Act gives too much powers to companies (settlors), especially in choosing those who serve in various organs of the HCDT. This may impinge negatively on the real intentions of the Act.
“Leaving a non-executive member, who by extension is a non-voting member in the management committee for the host community, while other membership in the committee is open for Nigerians, is very unjust and suspicious. This would not protect the interest of the community. Conversely, it is a recipe for conflict.”
The participants argued that for “the PIA to provide for oil companies to use funds meant for the HCDT to remediate sabotage on oil facilities, leaves more to be desired, especially in a country where organised crime in oil theft reigns supreme, coupled with the state of pipelines, which are over 50 years old and have the tendency to rupture under pressure.”
They said: “Oil and gas companies, together with the government, must make deliberate efforts to check oil theft and oil spill for the safety of environment and health, coupled with checks on the loss of resources.
“There should be concerted efforts by NOSDRA to do more with the resources at its disposal. It should immediately hold sensitisation talks with host communities on how best to report and take action when there are cases of the oil spill in their environment, with a view to getting justice and checking further spills. The NOSDRA Act should be reviewed to enhance the work of the agency.”