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Nigeria can learn from Gulf of Mexico disaster, NNPC GMD

By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Group General Manager of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Engr. Austen Oniwon, has stated the preparedness of the corporation, along with its partners, to deal with oil spillage emergencies and reduce their impacts towards ensuring a balanced ecological condition in its areas of operation.

Oniwon made the remark on Friday at the World Environment Day celebration event organized by the Environment and Safety Department in the Engineering and Technology Division of the NNPC, which took place in Abuja.

He also said the current BP oil spillage brouhaha in the Gulf of Mexico putting a lot of pressure on off-shore oil exploration, adding that it was also an opportunity for the industry to learn to forestall such incidents in the future.
He stated that, “The incident that is happening in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster, and it can happen anywhere in the world, including Nigeria. However, it is putting a lot of pressure on off-shore oil drilling.
“It is also a challenge mankind to find a solution to such failures in future; this is the first time a failure is occurring between the downward emission and the atmosphere. It also presents an opportunity for mankind to learn and improve in its handling of such matters.

“I am sure that lessons that will be learned from the mishap will go a long way to ensure that oil exploration is made much safer and ecologically friendly in the future. Every disaster gives another opportunity for humanity to learn and I can assure you that Nigeria, and more specifically the NNPC, would be learning a lot from this case in order to ensure that

Speaking further on the theme of the event, Biodiversity – Ecosystems Management and the Green Economy, Oniwon noted that the Corporation’s Ethanol development project, which would ensure cleaner energy options for consumers in the country, was still on course.

According to him, “NNPC is taking full advantages of all the opportunities to entrench green fuel and green energy delivery in the country. Primarily, we are a hydro-carbon company, but we believe that if coal can be made clean, then oil can even be made cleaner.

“This is because coal is the worst producer of carbon-dioxide that is ever seen, while hydrocarbon contains both hydrogen and carbon and the amount of carbon-dioxide that can be seen in hydrocarbon is not as harmful as in coal technology.”

The NNPC GMD further stressed that the corporation “is doing everything to ensure that the blending comes up in such a way to ensure that the ethanol mix to oil hydrocarbon becomes a better mix for us to have cleaner oil.

“Our ethanol development project is ongoing because our people in Exploration and Technology division are working extremely hard to make sure that we achieve our objective for cleaner energy in the nearest future.

He explained that the Ethanol initiative would involve further reduction of the amount of carbon-dioxide in the hydrocarbon oil by blending it with ethanol.

The GMD noted, however, that the initiative is not undertaken 100 percent by the Corporation but with the support and partnership of some private companies.

“The reason is because we do not believe in being the sole participants, and we think private companies should be a part of this project. Also, there are a lot of logistic issues that have to be resolved. For instance, ethanol that you mix with hydrocarbon is very hydroscopic; it absorbs a lot of water from the air, so we have to be put in place infrastructure that will convince most private companies to come in invest in the project; most of the blending outfits in the country do not have the infrastructure at all.

“When this is completed, we are going to bring in ethanol and make sure that we are able to use it in such a manner that will maximize the benefit for Nigerians. We are doing a lot in that aspect.”

Also speaking at the event, the General Executive Director, Engineering and Technology of the NNPC, Mr. Billy Agha reaffirmed the commitment of corporation to responsible environmental practices.

“As a recognized leader in the oil and gas industry, we also want to set the pace in promoting environmental awareness and protection. Over the years, we have demonstrated this commitment through our corporate social responsibility practices and day to day business operations.

“The NNPC as a national oil and gas company has embarked on global warming control measures such as striving with its joint venture (JV) partners to achieve gas flare-down in all the operations,” he added.

Agha noted that the corporation is targeting the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects by establishing CDM Working Groups that will project the NNPC into international Carbon Trading to reduce carbon emission.

“NNPC has also eliminated the application of Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) based materials in its operations in compliance with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol. Furthermore, many gas utilization  projects are under construction or planned to recover and utilize associated gas from oil wells that was otherwise flared or vented,” he added.


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