Oil Moguls State Fears Over Multiple Regulation, Safety Standards

Top players in the oil and gas industry, on Monday stated their displeasure about the worrisome spate of crises on regulation brought to bear on oil and gas operations by the multiple agents of government. According to the chieftains, who spoke at the Biennial Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Conference and Exhibition, organised by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in Abuja the agencies are having conflicts of interest in certain areas critical to oil and gas operations, thereby posing difficulties to the operators. The lapses in regulation were sequel to concerns that some oil firms and contractors have failed to comply with the industry standards on HSE, which are resulting into avoidable fatalities. The Managing Director, Emerald Oil and Gas, Emmanuel Egbogah pointed out that the multiplicity of regulation is a drawback for the industry, urging the Federal Government to fully empower the DPR to play its statutory role effectively. He said: “About six agencies are presently regulating the industry, and they are doing the same job. We have too many regulatory agencies with no regulation. I will suggest that we create a council that will raise alarm and let the government know that this is not good for the industry.” Egbogah, who was a former Adviser to the President on Petroleum Matters, alleged that such agencies were not established for national interest, but only to favour some political godfathers. He said greatest challenge of the industry is the poor implementation of HSE programmes by oil firms, especially the contractors, adding that the situation prevails because of the unclear direction of the multiple regulators. The Managing Director, ExxonMobil, Mark Ward, said the oil firms should have passion for safety and have expectations that all staff will be safe, once the safety programmes are implemented. He urged the oil firms both local and international, to always ensure that their contractors comply strictly with procedures, adding that good HSE practice would improve performance of the oil industry. According to him, the contractors are usually conscious of time and therefore take unnecessary risks, which most times lead to fatalities. This, he said, should be stopped and ensure that safety is not compromised for time. The Managing Director, Oando Plc, Wale Tinubu emphasised on maintenance of asset integrity so that it can continue to fit for purpose. He also highlighted the need for a perfect management system that would prioritise risk reduction and guarantee safety. The Oando boss stressed the need for the industry to shift from ‘nagging indicator’ to ‘loading indicator’, which would identify happen, rather than waiting for it to happen. The Head, Technical Services, DPR, Dozie Irrechukwu, who spoke earlier on the safety challenges, said number of accidents in the industry has reduced drastically from 77 in 2008 to 29 in 2012, where 19 fatalities occurred and 16 were related to work. “This is low, but not good enough,” he said, urging the oil firms to ensure that their contractors comply with industry safety standards. “We want the industry to be proactive and not to wait for DPR to regulate before necessary actions are taken,” he said.