The Nigeria Senate has directed its Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) review relevant laws governing abandonment, decommissioning and remediation with a view to determine the level of compliance by oil companies operating in Nigeria.

The Senate’s move is to end what it described as the “illegal” activities of oil companies engaged in exploration resulting in oil spills and environmental degradation of host communities in Nigeria.
It is also calling for further investigations of how budgeted allocations for this purpose were applied or expended over the years.

The upper chamber charged its committee to direct oil companies with operations in Nigeria to give a comprehensive account of allocations budgeted for mandatory abandonment and decommissioning, in their annual budgets running into billions of dollars unaccounted for.

These were part of resolutions reached by the upper chamber after deliberating on a motion on “the need to investigate the degree of enforcement of Abandonment and Decommissioning Obligations in Oil and Gas Exploration Contracts.”

Gershom Bassey (APC, Cross River South), who sponsored the motion, lamented the conduct of oil companies in Nigeria for “failing to restore exploited sites after the expiration of their lease as witnessed in the Niger Delta.”

He further drew the attention of the upper chamber to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas Art 60(3), the Geneva Convention Article 5(5), the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of Marine Environment, the 1967 Territorial Water Act and 1969 Petroleum Act, adding that at the point of transfer of interest by one company to another, “there is lack of clarity in many instances with regards to financial liability for abandonment and decommissioning thereby causing untold hardship to the host community.”

A co-sponsor of the motion, Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra North), described same as “critical”, considering the effects of degradation to host communities under oil exploration.

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