PRESS RELEASE                                                                                    NOVEMBER 27, 2019.


The haste with which the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), criminalizes host communities while struggling to exonerate the IOCs on incidences of oil spills even when a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) has not been conducted, is quite worrisome.

Recall that NOSDRA blamed Komkom community on the Pipeline explosion in the community few months back. It criminalized Ubeta community for the pipeline explosion that occurred recently in the community and the Agency has now also hastily blamed the fire incident around a Shell pipeline right of way around B-Dere/Bolo community road in Ogoni on the community/sabotage.

It is worrisome to note that, rather than restricting itself to its core regulatory duties, NOSDRA’s zonal office in Port Harcourt now doubles as “Mouthpiece of IOCs on Oil Spill Matters”. The public would expect that NOSDRA would allow Shell to respond to report of fire around its facilities on November 25, especially when a team from the company visited and were seen on the said site on Thursday, November 21, 2019 and on Monday, November 25, 2019 there was fire on the same site with Operation Crocodile Smile stationed in the area on a mission from November 8 to December 23, 2019 according to its signpost. “Third Party Interference” notwithstanding, the role of an Operator of a Joint Venture (JV), is to ensure the safety & security of its operations and facilities. Any compromise spells failure on the part of the Operator.

These hasty conclusions from NOSDRA’s Zonal Office in Port Harcourt without JIV are also misleading the NOSDRA’s Director General, the National Directorate, Ministry of Environment, the Ministers and of course the Federal Government. An example is a tweet from the Honourbale Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor (@Sharon_Ikeazor) on the November 25 incident that “Pls note SPDC Pipeline at B-Dere is not on fire. The fire is said to be from a stolen crude oil laden truck. (Update from DG NOSDRA)” when the incident had nothing to do with “fire is said to be from a stolen crude oil laden truck”.

May we inform that the “oil spill reporting form”, which gives operators the opportunity to “speculate” on the “course of spill”, is an “in-house” reporting system meant for contingencies. That NOSDRA is now the first to run to the media to announce the cause of spill using the in-house report (usually tagged “third-party interference”) to absolve operators of responsibilities without JIV report is indeed condemnable. NOSDRA has indeed proven that it cannot be wholly trusted with the regulatory responsibilities of the hydrocarbon industries and the Environmental Stakeholders pushing for this policy may well be disappointed.

We call on the Agency to stop criminalizing communities without JIV report to please IOCs as this could pitch communities against the Multinationals and mislead members of the public.

Signed: MESHACK UYI, Environmental Manager/Social Reformer and FYNEFACE DUMNAMENE FYNEFACE, Environmental Justice Campaigner, Human Right Defender and Executive Director, ADVOCACY CENTRE