Recent political developments are paving the way for changes in how Nigeria’s oil industry, predominantly based in the Niger Delta, is run. So we are stepping up our campaign to ensure that its environment – and people – are not forgotten.
One of the key issues that communities face in the Niger Delta is pollution. Years of oil spills and gas ‘flaring’ – when gas produced as part of oil extraction is burnt off – has led to disputes between communities and the oil industry, because of the damage done to air quality and land and water sources.
The Nigerian National Assembly is currently drafting much-needed new legislation for the industry. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to safeguard the health of the Niger Delta, and as part of our #CleanTheDelta campaign, we are urging those responsible not to miss it.
We have been following the progress of the legislation closely, which is the culmination of more than a decade of debate and is now close to completion. One of the key Bills, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, was approved by the National Assembly earlier in the year, and is waiting to be signed by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. We welcomed the provisions within this Bill to place the Nigerian petroleum industry on a surer financial footing – one of our goals is to ensure that the national and international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta contribute as effectively and responsibly as possible to the Nigerian economy, and a number of likeminded organisations have been campaigning on this
But to deliver peace and prosperity in the Niger Delta, the reforms must also address key environmental issues. There are three other Bills under consideration, and we are encouraging members of the National Assembly to take the environment into account. We want the Bills to include:
- Independent environmental regulation of the Nigeria’s oil sector. Currently, the Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), which is responsible for maximising revenue generation from the oil and gas industry, also enforces environmental standards. This is a clear conflict of interest. The Ministry of Environment should have oversight of the petroleum sector, as it does over other industry in Nigeria.
- Provisions for one of Nigeria’s key environmental agencies, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), to be able to carry out spot-checks on oil production and transportation facilities. Pipeline breaks can cause significant oil spills, so it is important to have checks to ensure that the infrastructure is well-maintained.
- The need to compel oil companies to monitor the amount of gas they flare. As well as contributing to climate change, gas faring costs Nigeria a huge amount of money in wasted resources.
We will continue to call for these issues to be central to the reform process. If you want to help us in this work, you can show your support by promoting our #CleanTheDelta campaign on your social media channels, emailing us with a message of support for our goals – so we can share it with those in power – or highlighting a specific environmental issue that you think needs to be addressed.
We are committed to fighting for a clean, healthy Niger Delta – for the benefit of all. See #CleanTheDelta for current news on this campaign