Don instructs governments on enforcing environmental laws

A well-known environmentalist, Mr. Iniruo Wills, has advocated for revoking and reassigning licenses only to oil companies that operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Wills made this call in a paper he presented at the ongoing 57th Conference of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Port Harcourt, Rivers.
The Tide source reports that the article was titled: “Environmental Responsibilities for Hydrocarbon Development in Divested Fields.”
Wills, a former environment commissioner at Bayelsa, recommended that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the Minister of Environment and the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) jointly administer the licensing policy.
The environmentalist noted that such an approach would be consistent with the current legal framework for two to three oil blocks, under the welcome provisions of Section 96 of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
He urged oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region to review their operational processes and take responsibility for their actions which typically lead to oil and gas releases.
According to Wills, in one of the oilfields given to Bayelsa by an international oil company (IOC), there was a massive rig explosion that displaced host communities.
“No Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted in the first place for the project in which the rig explosion occurred.
“This was before the divestment, but the impacts continue and could last for decades. There has not been satisfactory ecological and social rehabilitation. Now the asset would have been sold.
“Besides the glaring failure to do an EIA for the basic project, what type of environmental effects statement could have been prepared, if any, to justify regulatory approval of such a divestiture, with the huge outstanding environmental baggage?
“Who will end up paying the cost of remediation and compensation in accordance with best practice?
“The current operator, its predecessor, NNPC, as the dominant JV partner with dominant influence, or the regulators who may have failed in their regulatory due diligence to all stakeholders?
“Aren’t the host state, the communities and the environment the only ones with the end of the stick? To add to this, for most of November 2021, there was a major gas leak at one of the divested fields and facilities,” he said.
According to him, in another divested field, also to Bayelsa, the new operator claims that it was not authorized to do environmental due diligence by its predecessor, so it cannot take responsibility for the series of unmonitored pollution before taking over.