The Federal Government has stepped up response against spillage in the marine sector, the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, has said.
This, she said, was to prevent oil pollution in water bodies as more companies were moving their crude exploration activities to deep offshore locations.
Speaking on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency in Abuja, Mohammed stated that more oil companies were beginning to shift exploration activities to offshore wells in a bid to avert the militancy onshore.
According to her, this has led to the pollution of water bodies in locations where the oil firms operate, adding that to mitigate such development, the government has stepped up its response against oil pollution in the marine sector.
She said, “In Nigeria, there is a growing level of oil spill incidents caused majorly by the activities of illegal bunkering, artisanal refining, oil theft and armed militancy. These activities occur mostly in facilities located on land and swamp areas.
“However, some incidents do occur offshore, and with the increased interest of operators to pursue exploration and production in the deep offshore, there is the need to step up the level of preparedness to effectively respond to the challenges that may be presented by oil spills in the marine environment.”
Mohammed stated that the devastating impacts of oil spills on the environment, health and livelihoods of Nigeria’s rural and urban communities had led to land degradation, loss of life, destruction of habitats, loss of biodiversity, diseases, poor sanitation, as well as depletion of the national revenue base.
“The need to prevent and rapidly respond to oil spill incidents whenever they occur can therefore not be overemphasised,” she added.
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, NOSDRA, Mr. Peter Idabor, observed that given the huge prospects of wealth and development associated with oil and gas exploration and production, the resource had also proved to be an environmentally destabilising force.
He said, “Bearing this in mind, in its attempt to meet global energy need at an affordable, accessible and most importantly, in an environmentally conscious manner, the oil and gas industry must therefore integrate environmental protection.
“And this should be alongside economic and social development in the course of exploration, production and distribution.”