Oil Spills: Saraki Assures Nigerians of A Compelling Bill Soon.

Nigerians have been assured by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, that the bill which will adequately ensure compliance of oil companies to pay compensation to individuals, families and communities that suffer the impact of oil spills and gas flaring will soon be in place.
The Act to be known as the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Act 2006 Amendment Bill 2012, Saraki hinted had scaled second reading in the Upper chamber. He said:
“These two bills in my view will help address the regulatory and legal framework crucial to discouraging environmental bad behaviours that led to oil spills and routine gas flaring in Nigeria.”
He added that the Senate was determined to deal with the twin evils of oil spills and gas flaring anywhere in the country.
The Act when fully amended, he said, will significantly help reduce the unwholesome environmental practices that have made oil spills incessant in the Niger Delta region.
The aim, according to him, is to make it more economical for oil operators to view and treat with respect, the environment through deterrents.
The senator who made the disclosure recently in a stakeholders’ interactive session with the management team of NOSDRA, added that negligence by oil companies especially in the Niger Delta region had played significant role in the level of oil spills recorded in the country.
He however disagreed with oil companies’ findings that 70 per cent of oil spills are as a result of sabotage.
He said: “As we speak, the attitude of the average spiller to compensation is that of unwanted irritation because, the extant framework for the compensation for oil spillage under the Oil Pipelines Act is weak, ambiguous and ineffectual.”
According to him, investigation by the upper chamber authenticated suggestion that 50 per cent of oil spills in the country are due to corrosion of oil infrastructure including pipelines that are over 40-50 years old and therefore above their life integrity value, adding that the only way to combat oil spills is to change the law on oil spill management.
He explained that those responsible for oil spills in the country have continued to hide under the extant law to escape liability.
He said: “Instead of receiving adequate compensation, in most cases, what the people get is derogatorily termed palliative as they would rather give few monies to angry youths, settle loud chiefs and pay no attention to the very weak and voiceless in these communities, whose farms and livelihood receive the heaviest hit by the spill.
Adding, he said: “This bill seeks to avoid this situation and provide a useful framework for accessing and assessing compensation in a manner that is not only independent but also impartial.”
Saraki who bemoaned the negative effect of oil spills and gas flaring as compounding the suffering and the high level of degradation of the environment in the Niger Delta said: ”I’m committed to ensuring that the Niger Delta that I saw recently should not be allowed to become part of our legacy as a nation.
“This is why I am sponsoring the NOSDRA amendment Bill 2012 and the Gas Flaring Prohibition Bill 2012 to address some of the environmental challenges our people are facing. “Oil spill has been most devastating, growing exponentially and acquiring a frightening commonplace status in our country.
“It will interest you to know that in other parts of the world oil spill continues to reduce significantly as regulators everywhere are pulling out all the stops to cut down or completely eliminate oil spills.”