Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Government has warned that the exploration of hydrocarbon in reserves must be done in an environmentally sustainable and friendly manner.
Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, gave the warning in her remarks at a stakeholders’ meeting on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Ameshi and Enyi Field Development Project by Sterling Exploration and Production Company Ltd in Anambra State.
Ikeazor told the oil firm that concerted efforts must be made to identify the potential negative impact of any exploration project and that plans for mitigation should be put in place.
The minister’s warning at the meeting was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by the Director, Press, Federal Ministry of Environment, Saghir el Mohammed.
She was quoted as saying, “One of the objectives of this administration in the oil and gas industry is to optimally utilise our proven reserves to boost earnings and provide employment opportunities in various categories to Nigerian professionals, together with the skilled and semi-skilled labour force.
“Towards this end and in exercise of its regulatory responsibilities, the Federal Ministry of Environment observed that SEEPCO did not obtain all the required regulatory permits before embarking on drilling at site.
“This was in clear violation of section 62 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act. Consequently, a stop-work order of 6th July 2020 was issued to SEEPCO.”
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The statement stated that the meeting was aimed at arbitrating and resolving issues between the Anambra State Government and Sterling Petroleum.
Ikeazor charged stakeholders at the meeting to come up with ideas that would assist in making the proposed Amechi FDP a development project that would be executed at the highest levels of environmental sustainability.
The Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, said the stakeholders’ meeting was a follow up to series of complaints from the Anambra State Government on the exploration activities of SEEPCO in the state.
He said, “Your (Ikeazor) visit to Anambra State will give you first-hand knowledge of how SEEPCO activities have led to disastrous environmental degradation of the Ogwu-Ikpele and Ogwu Aniocha communities in Agbaru Local Government Area.
“Their operation has further worsened the plight and living conditions of those communities, thereby creating palpable tension and restiveness that were uncommon before the company arrived.
“We are counting on you to ensure that SEEPCO complies with the EIA requirement, so that we can leave no stone unturned in our quest to become a member of the oil and gas producing state of Nigeria.”