By Clara Nwachukwu
One of the major resolutions of the 15th Biennial International Health, Safety and Environment, HSE Conference is the call for the immediate establishment of an Oil and Gas Industry Council, OGIC.
The conference said the Council, which will be chaired by the industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, will discuss pertinent issues affecting the entire petroleum industry in Nigeria as the need arises.
In a communiqué issued by the DPR, the organizers of the conference last week, participants also called for the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment of manufacturing, fabrication and maintenance yards by indigenous entrepreneurs in the country.
Reiterating the need for improved funding and human capacity development for DPR, to enable it cope with the tremendous responsibilities it is increasingly saddled with, the Conference also identified the need for regulations to be knowledge and research driven.
The Conference also emphasized the importance of leadership, commitment and accountability in achieving HSE objectives in the industry, saying that these should be periodically reviewed, and should not be abdicated by the Chief Executive.
Apart from reiterating that the Biennial Conference should be sustained in view of the immense benefits derived thereof as the main forum for deliberating on HSE issues in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the conference looked at specific industry issues and resolved as follows:
The Conference identified the paucity of occupational health guidelines and standards in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry and recommends as follows:
An adequately staffed unit in the DPR, should be established to oversee the implementation of Occupational Health Standards and Guidelines
Incorporate Occupational Health Standards and G15th uidelines into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)
A workshop of all stakeholders in Occupational Health should be held to make final review of the proposed Occupational Health Standards and Guidelines.
The conference reiterates its previous recommendation that the Minister of Petroleum Resources should drive the process for the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between regulatory agencies in order to address conflicting and/or overlapping functions in the oil and gas industry.
The Conference identified the need that all stakeholders in safety and environment should maintain a tracking surveillance to track all bills from the National Assembly and appoint Nigerian Environmental Society (NES) as Liaison for an all-inclusive legislative process including consideration of extant laws and consultation of all relevant stakeholders before enacting bills into laws to avoid multiplicity of laws on same subject matter.
Conference identified a need for HSE stakeholders to play a role in National Communication for Climate Change with regards to data acquisition, mitigation, adaptation and reporting
The conference raised serious concerns on safety issues associated with petroleum product distribution by road transport and recommended that road transportation should be made safer and alternative means of product transportation should be revived e.g. rail and waterways.
The Conference identified the need for a shift from lagging to leading safety indicators.
There is the need to set up a special security outfit for the oil and gas installations, which should be well-funded and remunerated comparable to industry standard.
Operating companies should sustain the present momentum of the security awareness programs in place for their staff and families and promote the implementation of Federal Government programme on the security in the Niger Delta.
The Biennial International HSE Conference with the theme, “Strategic Environmental Planning for Sustainable Development in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry,” held between November 5 and 7, 2012 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
The Conference was attended by over 500 participants from oil and gas operating companies, service providers, regulators, community representatives, the academia, Federal, State and Local Government officials, non-governmental organizations as well as international participants.
There were five plenary sessions, where the following papers were presented and discussed:
• HSE Challenges in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry.
• The Challenges in Petroleum Products Distribution in Nigeria: HSE Perspective. & efficient and Sustainable Supply of Petroleum products in Nigeria – The Many HSE Challenges.
• Management of Statutory Overlaps on Environmental Regulations in the Oil & Gas Industry.
• Implementation of the Nigerian Content Development Act 2010 HSE Implication and Challenges.
• Overview of Occupational Health Standards and Guidelines in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria.
There were also a total of forty eight (48) technical papers that were presented at various sessions which covered a variety of topics and discussions on health, safety, security and environment.