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Host communities, CSOs reject PIB, say it will create impunity

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The recent promise by the current leadership of the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in April may not be fulfilled following the rejection of the bill on Thursday by host communities and civil society groups in the Niger Delta.

In rejecting the bill, they said it was designed to further enslave oil producing communities and create confusion in the region.

Spokesperson for the CSOs and host communities in the Niger Delta, Botti Isaac, said the current PIB would not protect the host communities as it could only leave them at the mercy of the oil companies.

He also said the bill when passed and signed into law would promote confusion in the Niger Delta and further expose the communities to environmental degradation and untold hardship, adding that communities in the Niger Delta will not accept such a law.

He accused the National Assembly of not allowing a fair and adequate opportunity for vulnerable stakeholders in the region to have a say in the legislative process towards passing the PIB.

He accused the lawmakers of giving so much attention to the government and oil companies to speak on the bill.

Isaac said, “We believe that a new set of laws are necessary to govern the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

“However, the PIB’s proposals, as it is, would promote environmental impunity in the oil industry and exacerbate social dislocation in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.

“On Tuesday, January 26. 2021, representatives of oil-bearing communities and civil society organisations from the Niger Delta were denied the right to participate in so-called Public Hearings organised by the Senate.

“After dedicating the first day of the hearing to take elaborate presentations from oil company representatives and government stakeholders, the Chairman of the Committee promised to allow the presentation of host communities’ views the next day.

“Unfortunately, rather than accord the representatives of oil-bearing communities the same attention, they were denied the opportunity to speak and instead asked to ceremonially hand over copies of their memorandum to the session Chairman.

“Again, we noted a similar display at the House of Representatives Hearing where members of oil host communities were denied access to the public hearing hall.

“We consider the manner the National Assembly has handled host communities and civil society contributions in these hearings as deliberately aimed at ensuring those critical voices are not heard.

“As the Petroleum Industry Bill is critical to the functionality of the oil and gas sector and the Nigerian economy, it is of utmost importance that all stakeholders are treated equally and accorded the same opportunity to discuss its contents and proposal.

“We are also profoundly concerned about the limited number of days and hours allocated to the Public Hearings on the PIB. Each day’s session lasts between 10 am and 1 pm. On the average, only about three hours are spent on the hearings each day, amounting to only six hours of public hearings in both houses of the legislature. To say the least, this is grossly inadequate and does not indicate a commitment to aggregating and considering all views.”

He said further that while the PIB remains the oldest and perhaps the most contentious bills in Nigeria’s legislature, it has suffered several setbacks, adding that “while we support a speedy passage of the Bill, we are more interested in such bill’s content and quality.

“As currently proposed, the PIB 2020 is inadequate to address the environmental, human rights and livelihoods concerns of host communities. Proposal for a host communities development fund does not support the participation of the communities in decision making.

“The governance structures proposed for the host communities fund deliberately deny any meaningful level of community participation while overtly promoting oil companies’ control and prominence.

“Oil companies described as ‘Settlors’ in the Bill are empowered to set up the Board of Trustees of the Trusts and conduct needs assessment and produce development plans on behalf of host communities. We believe that the level of emphasis on oil companies could fuel oil industry divide-and-rule tactics and stoke communal conflicts.

“It is also important to note that environmental pollution concerns are almost entirely ignored as the Executive Bill focuses more on production and commercial viability of the industry. The PIB 2020 ‘disempowers’ federal and state environmental agencies from the monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations in the petroleum industry.

 “While Nigeria records the highest and unacceptable levels of crude oil spills globally, and the country is among the worst in gas flaring globally, the PIB 2020 fails woefully in addressing these issues. There is no clear provision for addressing environmental pollution and sanctioning polluters. The bill fails to introduce any new measures to encourage the elimination of routine gas flaring.

“A key source of contention in the PIB, at least from the point of view of host communities, is the fact that it places responsibility for the protection of pipeline and other oil infrastructures with the communities.

“According to the Bill, the host community advisory committee ‘take responsibility for first line protection of facilities and ensure that petroleum operations are uninterrupted by members of their community failing which, benefits from the trust to the host community shall be.

He argued that placing the protection of oil installations on some unarmed host communities is unrealistic as “previous researches conducted by Social Action reveals that oil theft which is the major reason for puncturing oil pipelines is carried out mainly by armed cartels who are most times not even members of the community”.

He stressed if this provisions of the law is allowed to stand, “it could result in consistent denial of benefits which could in turn engender conflicts.”

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Bloody clashes: Sanwo-Olu’s RTEAN ban timely, say auto journalists

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The Nigeria Auto Journalists Association (NAJA), the umbrella association of automotive reporters in Nigeria, has commended the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his swift action in suspending all activities of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state following the recent restiveness between rival members of the group in Iyana-Iba, Ojo and Lagos Island areas of the state.

Mike Ochonma, Chairman of NAJA, made the commendation in a press statement he issued after the ban on the activities of RTEAN.

The chairman of NAJA stated that the ban by his the governor became imperative to prevent further breakdown of law and order in the state.

He called for more restraint and caution from RTEAN members to allow the state government to take necessary steps that would not only restore peace and decorum from the association, but more importantly, guarantee the security of lives of defenseless Lagos commuters going about their normal business.

The governor had also announced the constitution of a 35-man caretaker committee to take over activities of the union henceforth.

Heading the committee is Sulaiman Adeshina Raji with Bamgbose Oluseyi as deputy chairman.

During the clash last Wednesday, the transport union members were seen in a trending video clip engaging themselves in a free-for-all, hauling stones, bottles, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons at each other.

Two persons were reported killed during the clash.

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Major marketers hail NNPCL’s acquisition of top downstream firm, OVH Energy

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Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari

The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), an umbrella body of the largest downstream oil and gas companies in the country, has congratulated the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) on the successful acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing (OVHEM) Limited, a major downstream operator.

MOMAN in a statement issued yesterday by its Chairman and Managing Director of Ardova Plc, Mr. Olumide Adeosun, welcomed and encouraged the ongoing market consolidation geared towards bringing stability, cost and logistics optimisation in the downstream sector.
OVH is the owner and operator of the Oando- branded retail service stations across the country, and the company and NNPCL are member companies of MOMAN.

The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPCL, Mallam Mele Kyari and the Chief Executive Executive Officer of OVH Energy Marketing Limited, Mr. Huub Stokman, had announced the acquisition transaction last weekend at an event held in Abuja.

However, commenting on the development, Adeosun said, “We send hearty congratulations to NNPC Retail Limited and OVH Energy Marketing Limited on the successful acquisition of OVH Energy Marketing Limited by NNPC Limited.

“Both companies are active MOMAN members who are committed to our core values of health, safety, the protection of the environment, quality, customer service, innovation, technology and compliance with international corporate governance codes.

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“MOMAN welcomes and encourages the ongoing market consolidation which will bring stability, cost and logistics optimisation, enhanced competition and best practice sharing as we progress to a deregulated market.”

Kyari had said OVH Energy’s Oando- branded retail service stations would be rebranded into the NNPCL’s brand and merged with NNPC Retail Limited with full integration scheduled to take place by the end of 2023.
Both Kyari and Stokman were, however, silent on the financial implication of the deal and what would be the fate of OVH Energy Marketing’s employees when the formal takeover takes place by 2023.

The acquisition tagged by NNPCL as ‘Acquisition for Growth’, was expected to see the national oil company become the owner of entire assets of OVH Energy Marketing, licensee of the Oando retail brand and ASPM Limited, custodians of the Lagos Midstream Jetty, also known as West Africa’s first privately owned midstream jetty.

OVH Energy boasts of distributing over one billion litres of refined petroleum products annually while ASPM Limited is focused on strengthening Nigeria’s downstream value chain through the Lagos jetty.

In the short term, the acquisition would see the NNPCL receive a jetty (ASPM) with 240,000 metric tonnes monthly capacity, eight Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) plants, three lubes blending plants, three aviation depots and 12 warehouses.

The deal would also bring over 380 additional filling stations under NNPCL retail brand in Nigeria and Togo, on its journey to attaining 1,500 stations, making it the largest petroleum product retail network in Africa.
OVH’s expertise spans the provision of jetty services and the marketing and distribution of refined petroleum products for retail, commercial and industrial purposes.

The NNPCL GCEO had explained that the strategic move was aimed to create the leading downstream energy company in Nigeria and West Africa, driven by operational efficiency, best-in-class management, and physical infrastructure while offering premium petroleum products and related services to customers, in line with global standards.

Through this acquisition, he said the NNPC Retail Limited would build on the existing success of OVH Energy and operate model service outlets leveraging OVH’s extensive asset base and commercial capabilities.

Kyari further stated that the NNPCL was bringing to the table, its 45 years of experience and strong capability to bear on the management of the facilities.He maintained that securing the country against energy poverty would mean access to petroleum products in addition to managing the energy transition, which he said has become a reality.

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NMDPRA seals 16 gas plants, arrests five suspects in Edo

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The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has sealed 16 illegal gas facilities in Edo State.

Some filling stations were also sealed over an alleged breach of rules and regulations.
The agency arrested five suspects during the exercise.
The agency’s state comptroller, Ebi Ogionwo, said the clampdown was to curb the activities of illegal and unlicensed oil and gas operators in the state.
He alleged that some misguided operators were setting up oil and gas facilities in areas not suitable for the business and without necessary approval from the agency.
Ogionwo said, “It is an offence for anyone to site such facilities without due approval from the NMDPRA. The agency is out to bring sanity to the operations of midstream and downstream petroleum business in the state.”

He further warned investors against taking laws into their hands by setting up gas and petroleum facilities in areas not approved by the agency.

Ogionwo said five suspects arrested during the exercise would be charged to court.

“There are laws, guidelines and regulations that people must follow before setting up oil and gas facilities. So, the purpose of the operations is also to check the level of compliance by those who have set up these facilities in the state and take necessary actions that are required,” he said.

Ogionwo added that the illegal operations of oil and gas facilities compromised the safety of lives, property, environment as well as deprived both the state and Federal Governments of the revenue that should accrue to them through taxes and other sources.

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