Senate yesterday resolved to ask the Federal Government to direct the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to begin construction of the oil, gas and research centre in Oloibiri Community, Bayelsa State where oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in 1959.
This followed a motion by Senator Degi Biobarakuma (PDP Bayelsa) co-sponsored by 28 other senators on the need to ensure commencement of the Oil and Gas Research Centre and Museum in Oloibiri.
The red chamber also urged the Federal government to prioritise the development of heritage institutions such as the Oloibiri Oil and Gas Research Centre and Museum.
It further directed its relevant committees to carry out intensive oversight on the immediate implementation of the project.
Presenting the motion at plenary, Biobarakuma said that 63 years after discovery, exploitation and production of crude oil, the Oloibiri oil field and its environs had suffered neglect and environmental degradation.
He lamented that residents of the area had suffered ill health and recorded some deaths from epidemics and terminal diseases due to oil spills and flaring of natural gas.
The Senate explained that the idea of the national oil, gas and research centre was mooted following the need to boost foreign exchange earnings for the country and improve living standards of the host communities.
Biobarakuma recalled that former President Shehu Shagari laid the design and foundation stone in 1983, noting that the project was, however, halted no sooner than it commenced.
“The Federal Government had removed the project from the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and domiciled it with the PTDF in 2011 and it still remained moribund in spite of the transfer,” he stated.
Pointing out that it was worrisome that the contract valued at about N35 billion was yet to be completed, he said abandoned project left residents of the host communities with negative memories of oil exploration and production.
Other senators who supported the motion are George Sekibo (PDP Rivers) and Ibrahim Oloriebe (APC Kwara), among others.
Following an affirmative voice vote the Senate accordingly also resolved to commend the Federal Government for the conceptualisation, design and award of contract for the establishment of an Oil, Gas Research Centre and Museum in Oloibiri.