As part of its determination to end the nefarious, illegal artisanal oil refining in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government has hinted it is set to establish three modular refineries in each of the oil producing states, particularly in the Niger Delta region.
If this initiative sails through, it means the government would have to set up a total of 21 refineries in the country’s seven major oil producing states in the Niger Delta which include Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River and Ondo.
According to FG, the idea behind the initiative, was to end the illegal artisanal refining activities going on in oil producing areas and its impact on residents in the affected locations.
Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Minister of State for Environment, made this known in a statement issued by her ministry in Abuja.
She stated, “In a bid to find alternative sources of livelihood for artisanal refiners and to encourage them to disengage completely from their illegal activities, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and other critical stakeholders, are working on the establishment of three modular refineries per state in the oil producing areas as a pilot scheme to engage them (artisanal refiners).
“These modular refineries are intended to be 100 per cent designed and manufactured in Nigeria using the expertise of government institutions such as the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Federal University of Petroleum Effurun and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
“Others include Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Niger Delta Development Commission, Petroleum Technology Development Fund, Nigerian Content Development and Management Board, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, etc.
She hinted of government’s plan to train the artisanal refiners on environmental management, including skills required for oil spill management and remediation.
“The main objective is to enable those participating in illegal/artisanal oil refining to transit into operation of modular refineries to be run legitimately as a business under proper technical, commercial and environmental regulation,” Ikeazor stated.
She further stated that, “It is also the intention of government that other artisanal refiners that cannot be absorbed in the pilot modular refineries will be congregated into business clusters and the Alternative Livelihood Fund in the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project be utilised to set up businesses for them, especially on the management on spent oil to engage them.
She disclosed that the environmental hazard of soot is caused by the illegal artisanal activities in the region.
“In fact, the much talked about Port Harcourt soot is caused by the activities of artisanal refineries due to the indiscriminate ‘cooking’ of stolen crude oil which releases very thick black smoke into the atmosphere, and later settles on surfaces as soot.
As part of the mechanism for addressing the issue, the National Oil Spill and Response Agency annually embark on sensitisation campaigns to host communities in the oil-producing states.