By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives has urged the federal government to undertake a damage and post impact assessment of gas flared environment and direct payment of compensation by oil companies to affected communities.
The resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma (Edo-PDP) and six others.
The motion titled; `need to investigate the Loss of Over 14 Billion dollars as a Result of Non-Payment of Gas Flared Penalties by International Oil Companies (IOCs) From April 2008 -2016.
Rep Agbonayinma while moving the motion explained that gas flaring was harmful to the economy and the environment as the gas flared contained toxic substances which caused respiratory diseases and air pollution.
He added that this could lead to depletion of the Ozone layer, and ultimately, having adverse effects on the weather and climate.
“Also notes that statistics show that the quantity of gas flared in Nigeria exceeds over 40 per cent of gas flared across Africa, which amounts to trillions of Naira that have been wasted over the years.
“Further notes that the consequences of gas flaring include destruction of farmlands, damaging of crops, contamination of the air and acid rains which, apart from corroding corrugated aluminum roofs, acidify the soil in the areas where gas flaring takes place.
“Aware that the Federal Government, in a bid to discourage gas flaring and encourage the redirection of gas flared from waste to wealth, and also to save the environment and the lives of the people living in the gas flared environment, imposed a penalty of 3.5 dollars per 1000 SCF of gas flared by Oil Companies.
“Also aware that the Deputy Director and Head, Upstream of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), while speaking at a Conference in Houston, Texas, USA recently, said that the country has lost 14,298 billion dollars between April 2008 and October 2016 in form of penalties for gas flaring which the International Oil Companies (IOCs) failed to pay.
“In a similar vein, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), in its latest Oil and Gas Audit Report, noted that Firms operating in the country have failed to abide by the regulating penalty of 3.5 dollars for every 1000 SCF of gas flared by oil companies.’’
Agbonayinma expressed concern that Multi National Oil Companies which adhered strictly to internationally acceptable environmental best practices in their countries and other parts of the globe had refused to pay the agreed penalties on gas flared in Nigeria.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The house therefore, set up and adhoc Committee to investigate the non-payment of penalties on gas flaring by oil companies and report back to it within 8 weeks for further legislative inputs.