Tochukwu MAXWELL & Grace SAMUEL
The Institute for Oil, Gas, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, OGEES, of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, has stated that the implementation of laws governing environmental issues in the Nigerian petroleum industry remained weak, while the agency in charge of regulating the industry appears distracted.
OGEES, in a report on its research conducted on the oil industry and presented at a stakeholders’ workshop in Abuja, also stated that there was need to clarify and streamline the functions of the Department of Petroleum Resources, to enable it carry out its functions effectively in this regard.
According to the report, the implementation of the regulatory framework for environmental protection in the Nigerian oil and gas sector was still very weak despite the existence of a rich set of regulations contained in the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria EGASPIN.
The research was conducted by a team including the OGEES Institute of the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti. EGASPIN is a set of regulations that was initiated by the DPR to govern health safety and environment (HSE) activities in the oil and gas industry.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ workshop to validate the findings of the research team, the Executive Director of the OGEES Institute, Mr. Damilola Olawuyi said the team did a comparative assessment of the environmental framework in the oil and gas sector especially whether EGASPIN complies with international best practices, adding that the assessment found that EGASPIN was rich but implementation was the weakest link.
He said, “There is confusion on the roles of agencies with multiple and overlapping responsibilities. We think this does not provide the right atmosphere for a strong implementation of environmental guidelines in the oil sector,” he said.
“We also found that DPR has a lot on its plate, it is not in line with international best practices for an entity to be the licensing authority and to also be the environmental watchdog,” Olawuyi said.
He added that Nigeria needs an international body to audit the regulators in the oil industry, stating that a comprehensive regulator needed to be put in place.
Another member of the project team, Umar Dogar, said what obtains globally was a situation where a separate body looks at issues around oil and gas permits with another agency enforcing environmental standards.