The Nigerian Senate has recently passed the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) Amendment Bill. This could help support the clean-up and remediation of communities impacted by the oil industry in the Niger Delta.
NOSDRA is the Nigerian government agency responsible for monitoring and responding to oil pollution in the Niger Delta. The Bill that has been passed gives it more powers to protect the environment and respond to pollution. SDN has been calling for NOSDRA and the legislation governing it to be reformed, to enable NOSDRA to protect the environment more effectively.
As such, we are pleased that the Bill – which has been years in development – has passed in the Senate, the upper house of the Nigerian National Assembly. And it makes some key changes to NOSDRA, including:
- Changing its name to the National Oil Pollution Management Agency, NOPMA.
- Improving its funding to address spills from third parties: that is, entities or individuals who have or do not have business relations with the facility owner. These include entities or individuals such as servicing companies, vandals, and oil thieves.
- Enforcement of increased fines and penalties for polluters.
- Making provisions for NOPMA to regulate all tiers of oil spills. The tiered approach is an identification scheme for determining the response capability and resources needed to respond to a spill, based on its volume, location and geographical reach. Tier 1 is local, Tier 2 is regional, and Tier 3 international.
- Giving it powers to enforce penalties and fines, as well as to inspect and monitor the decommissioning of oil facilities.
This is encouraging, and we welcome these changes. But there is still work to be done to ensure the harmonised version of the Bill passed in the Senate is also passed by the House of Representatives.
The Bill will then go to the office of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for him to sign it into law.
After this, the next step will be implementation. It will be vital that NOPMA is supported, politically and financially, to do its job. Giving NOPMA the mandate to hold the oil industry to account is an important development, but it must be adequately resourced to enforce it.
SDN will continue to engage with the House of Representatives on this, and call for the President to sign the Bill, make it law, and support NOPMA to implement it effectively. We call on all those who want a clean and healthy environment for the Niger Delta and its people to support this goal.